Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
A Boook About Labels
on September 19, 2010
"Liberal Fascism" speaks of the relationship between the Fascist intellectual tradition and practice and the Liberal-Progressive movement in Twentieth Century America. Author Jonah Goldberg draws comparisons between the practices of Progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR and modern liberals with those of fascists Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler. The section on the Wilson administration raises interesting facts about the numbers of people imprisoned for criticism of the government. Administration standards for loyalty were shocking by today's standards. The New Deal programs setting wages and prices fits into the fascist economic model.
Goldberg makes the case that fascism is really a phenomena of the left that is identified with the right only because leftists wanted to distance themselves from what had become an unpopular movement and the fact that, where they competed, leftists and fascists hated each other.
This book makes for some interesting thinking. I think that Goldberg makes a good case that fascism is close to liberalism in that both movements emphasize government direction and control of the economy and details of everyday life. This is in contrast to modern conservatism that finds its roots in classical liberalism which emphasizes freedom from government economic controls and intrusions into everyday life. I am somewhat skeptical of comparisons between the various regimes. Does it really follow that because Nazis and the modern liberals assert an obligation to be healthy and want to restrict unhealthy products and practices establishes that they are similar movements?
Jonah Goldberg states that he wrote the book because he was tired, as a conservative, of being labeled a fascist. I think that the import of this book is what it tells us about labels. It tells us that anti-Semitism is not a characteristic of fascism, but is merely a practice of some, but not all, fascists. It tells us that modern conservatives are the heirs of classical liberals, not fascists who are really left wing, not right wing. It tells us that modern Progressives and liberals really do have something in common with fascist movements. As Goldberg says, that does not mean that Woodrow Wilson, Hughey Long, FDR, LBJ, and Hillary are fascists. It does mean that they share some values and tactics with fascists and that says as much or more about fascists than it does about American liberals.