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The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas

a book by Jonah Goldberg

(our site's book review)

Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, Refusing Debate Because They Know Most of Their Ideas Are Illogical and Conservatives Would Win Every Time

The Amazon blurb says that The bestselling author of Liberal Fascism dismantles the progressive myths that are passed off as wisdom in our schools, media and politics.

According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves that they’re not ideological.

According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves that they’re not ideological even though they are
According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves that they’re not ideological even though they are

Today’s Liberals Follow Obama's Lead, Spouting Countless Meaningless Clichés Instead of Solid, Meaningful Concepts

Today, “objective” journalists, academics and “moderate” politicians peddle some of the most radical arguments by hiding them in homespun aphorisms. Barack Obama casts himself as a disciple of reason and sticks to one refrain above all others: he’s a pragmatist, opposed to the ideology and dogma of the right, solely concerned with “what works.” And today’s liberals follow his lead, spouting countless clichés such as:

Goldberg dismantles many Trojan Horses that liberals use to cheat in the war of ideas
Goldberg dismantles many Trojan Horses that liberals use to cheat in the war of ideas

The Grand Progressive Tradition of Denying an Ideological Agenda While Pursuing It Vigorously under the False-Flag of Reasonableness Is Alive and Well

With humor and passion, Goldberg dismantles these and many other Trojan Horses that liberals use to cheat in the war of ideas. He shows that the grand Progressive tradition of denying an ideological agenda while pursuing it vigorously under the false-flag of reasonableness is alive and well. And he reveals how this dangerous game may lead us further down the path of self-destruction.

"There are, of course, some fat targets here. The multiple excesses of political correctness, academia gone amok and identity politics have been common fodder for discerning conservatives for decades. The left can be foolishly myopic at times: it took a quarter-century before most liberals admitted the truth of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s insight into the social disintegration caused by single-parent families. . . . he trots out an absurd one [cliché] of his own in the very next chapter: 'Liberals are uncomfortable with the topic of patriotism because their core philosophical impulses are to make America a different country than it is.'" (Source: Hating Liberals, Joe Klein, NY Times)

Colleges enforce mindless conformity including indoctrinating students involuntarily with a vile form of political correctness
Colleges enforce mindless conformity including indoctrinating students involuntarily with a vile form of political correctness

No One Is More Asleep Than the "Woke" Culture of Self-Righteous Bigots

Klein's "fat targets" of political correctness, academia gone amok and identity politics are much more than conservative's griping points, as he implies. In 2012, when the book and Klein's review happened, the ugly reality of what political correctness, academia gone amok and identity politics really meant was apparent to all those not asleep. In 2020, these key liberal narrative concepts scream so loud that even being asleep will not prevent one from being shocked into wakefulness, trembling at the horrid implications for American culture, politics, and academia, as well as for our future as a nation. Ironically, the closer one is to being a brainwashed "woke" robot—especially if you belong to the totalitarian hate group known as the cancel culture—the less likely you will get shocked into wakefulness, trembling at the horrid implications for American culture, since your mind is a permanent casualty of the liberals' war on freedom, democracy, and free speech.

The closer one is to being a brainwashed 'woke' robot—especially if you belong to the totalitarian hate group known as the cancel culture—the less likely you will get shocked into wakefulness, trembling at the horrid implications for American culture
The closer one is to being a brainwashed 'woke' robot—especially if you belong to the totalitarian hate group known as the cancel culture—the less likely you will get shocked into wakefulness, trembling at the horrid implications for American culture

Liberals Really Do Want to Make America a Radically Different Country Than It Is

Do liberals really want to make America a different country than it is? Hating Liberals, Joe Klein's leftist 2012 NY Times article, calls it an absurd cliché that Jonah Goldberg implied that liberals really do want that. Hindsight is truly 20-20 vision, as anyone looking at the liberals' political platform in the 2020 election can see that liberals really do want to make America a radically different country than it is, and their description of Liberal Utopia would describe Hell to most of us.

Liberals really do want to make America a radically different country than it is, and their description of Liberal Utopia would describe Hell to most of us; their plans ooze with good intentions, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions
Liberals really do want to make America a radically different country than it is, and their description of Liberal Utopia would describe Hell to most of us; their plans ooze with good intentions, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions

The worst part of their platform isn't even the ludicrous use of stale liberal clichés in its makeup. It's the phoniness of the thing. The Democrats know full well that there isn't now nor will there ever be money available for these things even if these progressives were somehow successful in taking 95% of the rich people's wealth in order to fund their foolishness. (There is no way Congress would or could ever push through such ridiculous legislation, so why pretend it is possible? And the wealthy would immediately shelter their wealth offshore and also move to a friendly country not in the midst of suicide. The only thing left is the shrinking middle class, most of whom would lose their jobs as all the rich high-tech giants moved their companies to a friendly country not in the midst of suicide!)

Since the Democrats know full well that there isn't now nor will there ever be money available for these things, why pretend that they're doable? Unfortunately, because the liberal voters listening to their Liberal Utopia plans are educated in liberal high schools and colleges that gave up on knowledge and learning years ago. They replaced it with stupid, naive indoctrination that pushed political correctness, academia as indoctrination centers and identity politics as great, essential ideas. They rewrote history and preached anti-Americanism. This Marxist takeover of academia has our young screaming to replace democracy with socialism. They are so gullible that when professors tell them to sell the wealth of the rich and give it to the blacks as "reparations" they buy every word, since college has been specifically designed to stop you from thinking for yourself, questioning authority, or failing to conform to liberal standards. Since students have never learned to think, they are expected to simply conform, believe, trust, and assimilate dogma. And NEVER question what you are being taught! This isn't education, folks, it's indoctrination—like the commies and fascists do, but that Americans were supposed to avoid doing.

Instead of colleges speaking against Marxism, they advocate it as well as anti-Americanism, and they allow Antifa to stop conservative speakers from speaking
Instead of colleges speaking against Marxism, they advocate it as well as anti-Americanism, and they allow Antifa to stop conservative speakers from speaking

You Don’t Have Free Speech When Only One Side Is Allowed to Talk and You Don’t Have Freedom When One Side Can Be "Canceled" for Disagreeing with the Other

"You don’t have free speech when only one side is allowed to talk. You don’t have freedom when one side can be 'canceled' for disagreeing with the other. In today’s world, opposing views aren’t challenged or debated, they’re censored by the left. . . . With today’s left, there is no tolerance. In fact, it’s not enough to agree with them. You must disavow the fundamental principles that make America the greatest country ever. The left wants to rid the country of foundational ideals like respect for the Constitution, support of our Judeo-Christian values, and adherence to the rule of law. . . . On Nov. 3, stand up to the mob, stand up for the Constitution, and reject 'cancel culture.' Reelect President Donald Trump." (Source: Reject the ‘cancel culture.’ Reelect Donald Trump as president: Jim Jordan, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, cleveland.com )

"Two months before Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, Cass Sunstein took to the pages of the New Republic to extol his friend's brilliance and, equally important, his pragmatism. Many of those who covered Obama on a daily basis accepted and propagated the conventional wisdom that he was 'postpartisan'—a reputation his handlers had assiduously cultivated since the 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that launched his career. Sunstein gave these assumptions an academic gloss: not only was Obama postpartisan, he was post-ideological. Obama, Sunstein gushed, 'prefers solutions that can be accepted by people with a wide variety of theoretical inclinations;' his 'skepticism about conventional ideological categories is principled, not strategic;' and Obama's 'form of pragmatism is heavily empirical; he wants to know what will work.'"

Pragmatism is the disguise progressive and other ideologues (Obama) don when they want to demonize competing ideologies, or tell lies with a straight face, which Obozo was a master at
Pragmatism is the disguise progressive and other ideologues (Obama) don when they want to demonize competing ideologies, or tell lies with a straight face, which Obozo was a master at

It's a persistent trope. 'Obama has done more to expand government than any president since Lyndon Johnson—perhaps Franklin Roosevelt—and yet he is regularly described as a non-ideological pragmatist. Why? Jonah Goldberg's The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas answers this question and many, many others with depth, authority, and humor as he builds a forceful case that the Left (and its unwitting allies) uses clichés to avoid having to make difficult arguments. Indeed, Goldberg, editor-at-large for National Review Online and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, opens Tyranny with chapters on 'Ideology' and 'Pragmatism'—the two longest in the book—providing detailed etymological analyses of the words and their meaning, historical and current. He concludes that 'Pragmatism is the disguise progressive and other ideologues don when they want to demonize competing ideologies.'" (Source: The Trite Stuff, Stephen F. Hayes, Claremont Review of Books)

But when you cease to be aware that you have an ideology, it doesn’t make you a pragmatist; it makes you a dogmatist (not to mention a hypocrite and a liar and a fool); here a liberal dogmatist professor claims he is merely a pragmatist (not an ideologue) who has realized how bad and evil the conservatives are, which shows that everything they believe is wrong!
But when you cease to be aware that you have an ideology, it doesn’t make you a pragmatist; it makes you a dogmatist (not to mention a hypocrite and a liar and a fool); here a liberal dogmatist professor claims he is merely a pragmatist (not an ideologue) who has realized how bad and evil the conservatives are, which shows that everything they believe is wrong!

When You Cease to Be Aware That You Have an Ideology, It Doesn’t Make You a Pragmatist; It Makes You a Dogmatist

Goldberg explains how liberals erroneously and ridiculously claim they are merely pragmatists, not ideologues. But when you cease to be aware that you have an ideology, it doesn’t make you a pragmatist; it makes you a dogmatist (not to mention a hypocrite and a liar and a fool). Liberals reveal just how ideological they are when they run into people expressing views counter to their own. They don't argue or debate. Liberals have no patience for debate, since they consider all their PC ideas to be the absolute truth, and conservatives' views as wrong, evil, racist, and not worth listening to by anyone. When conservatives do speeches, liberals interrupt them and harrass the speakers and then try to ruin their lives with the ugliest political strategy ever conceived: the cancel culture.

Liberals reveal just how ideological they are when they run into people expressing views counter to their own. They don't argue or debate. Liberals have no patience for debate, since they consider all their PC ideas to be the absolute truth, and conservatives' views as wrong, evil, racist, and not worth listening to by anyone
Liberals reveal just how ideological they are when they run into people expressing views counter to their own. They don't argue or debate. Liberals have no patience for debate, since they consider all their PC ideas to be the absolute truth, and conservatives' views as wrong, evil, racist, and not worth listening to by anyone


To liberals, ideas are false if they make anyone uncomfortable or nervous; judgments are not made according to facts and truth, they are made according to the feelings of the listener and whether s/he feels unsafe while hearing them; here a lady just heard a truthful, logical, factual conservative idea but she felt strongly it was bad, wrong, and evil
To liberals, ideas are false if they make anyone uncomfortable or nervous; judgments are not made according to facts and truth, they are made according to the feelings of the listener and whether s/he feels unsafe while hearing them; here a lady just heard a truthful, logical, factual conservative idea but she felt strongly it was bad, wrong, and evil


Americans Will Soon Have Difficulty Recalling a Time When Citizens Could Safely Speak Their Minds—Goodbye Democracy, Hello Tyranny

Alexis de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, noticed that our country's freedom stems not so much from laws as from Habits Of The Heart engaged in by freedom loving Americans. But the illiberal left is rapidly erasing these social-civic heart habits to such an extent that Americans will soon have difficulty recalling a time when citizens could speak their minds without fear of a retaliating mob of self-righteous PC-obsessed extremists or even Antifa thugs. Goodbye democracy, hello tyranny. They're even removing historical statues that deviate from the liberal narrative. See Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past.

When conservatives give speeches, liberals interrupt them and harrass the speakers and then try to ruin their lives with the ugliest political strategy ever conceived: the cancel culture
When conservatives give speeches, liberals interrupt them and harrass the speakers and then try to ruin their lives with the ugliest political strategy ever conceived: the cancel culture

"In Politics and the English Language, George Orwell says that a writer can avoid the heavy lifting of making an original or insightful argument by simply turning his pen on autopilot and fueling it with 'ready-made' clichés. . . . liberalism imposes itself not through sustained argument, but through a shabby tyranny of clichés, which hides its ideological underpinnings behind a façade of trite phrases and homespun truisms. . . . The subtext is always clear: People who disagree with liberalism do so because they are deranged, brainwashed, corrupt, selfish, or stupid." (Source: The Tyranny of Clichés , Jonah Goldberg, National Review)

The 2020 PC-obsessed Thought Police seek any thoughts or ideas that are not in the accepted liberal narrative so they can hit the offenders with character assassination, demonization, and dehumanizing tactics and/or violence and silence them
The 2020 PC-obsessed Thought Police seek any thoughts or ideas that are not in the accepted liberal narrative so they can hit the offenders with character assassination, demonization, and dehumanizing tactics and/or violence and silence them

Liberals Don't Want Citizens—They Want Mindless, Indoctrinated Conformists Spewing Only the Party Line Out of Fear

The more success the illiberal left has in their terrorizing citizens who express dissenting viewpoints, the closer the U.S. comes to tyranny and the farther it wanders from democracy, the more the thought police will stop dissent from the liberal narrative so we are all mindless conformists spewing the party line. Oppression may succeed at gagging most dissent, but at what cost? The answer to that question is very scary—because the cost is democracy and freedom!

Oppression may succeed at gagging most dissent, but at what cost? The answer to that question is very scary—because the cost is democracy and freedom!
Oppression may succeed at gagging most dissent, but at what cost? The answer to that question is very scary—because the cost is democracy and freedom!


Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-034-21, Warschau, Parade vor Adolf Hitler
The character assassination, demonization, and dehumanizing tactics and silencing of dissent by leftist fanatics is way too close to the SS tactics in Hitler's Germany to be tolerated in a free society; if they are not stopped, all is lost and fascistic stormtroopers will be goosestepping their way to our door


Obama speaks almost entirely in the progressive language of clichés. He describes the world through the ideologically loaded tropes of the campus worldview, all while insisting he’s nothing more than a pragmatist stymied in his reasonable, American quest for social justice; here he plays the race card; he was the most divisive and racist leader in history
Obama speaks almost entirely in the progressive language of clichés. He describes the world through the ideologically loaded tropes of the campus worldview, all while insisting he’s nothing more than a pragmatist stymied in his reasonable, American quest for social justice; here he plays the race card; he was the most divisive and racist leader in history

We Are Increasingly Taught to View Our Traditions as a System of Oppression, Exploitation, and Privilege—We Must Fight This Tragedy

As Jonah Goldberg says in Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy, In the last few decades, our political virtues (our freedoms, our rights, self control, liberty, etc.) have been turned into vices. As we are increasingly taught to view our traditions as a system of oppression, exploitation, and privilege, the principles of liberty and the rule of law are under attack from the left. For the West to survive, we must renew our sense of gratitude for what our civilization has given us and rediscover the ideals and habits of the heart that led us out of the bloody muck of the past—or back to the muck we will go.

We hope our country will abandon the ugly, hateful, whiteness-hating liberal narrative, flush the idea that our traditions are a system of oppression, exploitation, and privilege, and return to sanity in the arenas of social media, discussions, politics, and race. The obnoxious liberals just don't know when to quit. Their "institutionalized racism" obsession is simply a tactic to use to divide and conquer in order to gain power, and most Americans are sick to death of hearing about such nonsense—80% say they are very tired of political correctness. Read Suicide of the West and The Tyranny of Clichés.

For the West to survive, we must renew our sense of gratitude for what our civilization has given us and rediscover the ideals and habits of the heart that led us out of the bloody muck of the past—or back to the muck we will go
For the West to survive, we must renew our sense of gratitude for what our civilization has given us and rediscover the ideals and habits of the heart that led us out of the bloody muck of the past—or back to the muck we will go