Monday, December 17, 2007


Jonah Goldberg:
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 professorate, 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.
Variant One:
In America, it took a "folksier," more outdoorsy form. The modern heirs of this "frontier fascist" tradition include the American Cattlemen magazine, the Grange Party, the Jim Shoulders fan club, and wearers of Wrangler jeans. The quintessential frontier fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a rodeo clown who honed his chops during Wyoming Frontier Days events.
Variant Two:
In America, it took a "Franciscan," more Catholic form. The modern heirs of this "faith fascist" tradition include L'Osservatore Romano, the Catholic League, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Knights of Columbus. The quintessential faith fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a celibate parochial-school teacher with a divinity degree from Villanova or Notre Dame.
This blog means no disrespect to cowboys or Catholics. It's just that Goldberg simply plugs names into his "these are fascist" template with no regard for the facts. Fascism is primarily based on violence, militarism, and suppression of dissent. Liberalism, whatever you think about it, isn't that. But that doesn't dissuade Goldberg. He will say anything - anything - to attack the character of liberals (or whoever he's going after at the moment).

UPDATE: Commenter at Yglesias has similar thoughts:
I think an interesting game could be created out of that last sentence. Just fill in the blanks with any two random items, as long as they are nonsensically and outrageously (i.e. "brilliantly") juxtaposed:
"The quintesessential liberal fascist isn't an murderous antisemite that equates humans with bacteria, it is a male barista at Starbucks
"The quintesessential liberal fascist isn't a death camp director who ensures that the monthly quota of gassings occurs , it is summer camp counselor who encourages children to have "fun"
You too can play!

Ages 4-12.


Is Jonah clearing the fascistic blowhole of his personal "White Whale:" liberalism? Jonah is no George Costanza of Seinfeld fame. With this book has the weaning finally been completed, morphed into perpetual whining?

By Blogger Shag from Brookline, at 12/18/2007 4:39 AM  

Sure, if you ignore history, deny reality and twist factoids to fit a preconceived point of view, then you can be proud of any tautology you create.

First and foremost denial is that fascism was (is) the conservative wielding of authoritarian state power to serve the interests of industrial and financial cartels.

Political correctness does have a nagging tendency to seek conformity in non-offensive behavior and statements, to the point that it can seem to be channeling a thought police gestalt. That really bugs me. And I don't like nanny states either, that want to look into your personal life, and restrict free expression.

But you know what, PC is not fascism in any form.

Should this putative book be published it has the potential to become a new Protocols of the Elders of Zion or a Nat Turner's Diary. That would be bad. On the other hand, it's likely to be a big fat pinata. Easily debunked and ridiculed, just a juicy, slow moving target of opportunity grazing out there on the savannah. I think your teeth are sharp enough for that!

By Anonymous jon, at 12/18/2007 7:49 AM  

_Friendly Fascism _
by Bertram Gross
South End Press, 1980, ISBN 0-89608-149-4

Gross was one of the architects of the New Deal which probably makes him one of Goldberg's quintessential liberal fascists, a non-Republican who is ready to fight back.

Here's a comparison between Gross' friendly fascism and the situation at the time he was writing:

"Early 80's - "Free World" empire in process of slow shrinkage and confused adjustment to changing conditions
Friendly Fascism - Drive to maintain unity of "Free World" empire, contain or absorb communist or socialist regimes, and perhaps retreat to "Fortress America"

Early 80's - A divided, semi-oligarchic Establishment facing deep difficulties in responding to changing crises
Friendly Fascism - A more integrated Big-Business-Government power structure, backed up by remolded militarism, new technocratic ideologies, and more advanced arts of ruling and fooling the public

Early 80's - An economy oriented toward subsidizing concentrated profitability, despite the social and economic consequences
Friendly Fascism - A more unbalanced economy, rooted in extended stagflation, manipulated shortages, more junk, and environmental degradation

Early 80's - Growing power of Chief Executive Network, together with chaotic conflicts at all levels of government
Friendly Fascism - Subtle subversion, through manipulative use and control of democratic machinery, parties, and human rights

Early 80's - Semi-unified information management with beginnings of scientific monitoring and dossier-keeping
Friendly Fascism - Informational offensives, backed up by high-technology monitoring, to manage minds of elites and immobilize masses

Early 80's - Major trends towards rewards based on credentialized professionalism, mass consumption, and elite power
Friendly Fascism - Rationed rewards of power and money for elites, extended professionalism, accelerated consumerism for some, and social services conditional on recipients' good behavior

Early 80's - Tendencies toward both professional and unprofessional use of domestic violence, with outbursts of ethnic conflict and scapegoatery
Friendly Fascism - Direct terror applied through low-level violence and professionalized, low-cost escalation, with indirect terror through ethnic conflicts, multiple scapegoats, and organized disorder

Early 80's - Anxiety relief through such traditional escape mechanisms as alcohol, gambling and sports, and ultra-violent drama
Friendly Fascism - More varied and extensive anxiety relief through not only traditional escape mechanisms but also through sex, drugs, madness, and cults

Early 80's - With immature oligarchic control, little decisiveness and insufficient adaptability in coping with crises
Friendly Fascism - Internal viability grounded on system-strengthening reforms, multilevel co-optation, creative counterresistance, and innovative apathetics"

By Blogger gmoke, at 12/18/2007 10:41 PM  

Selectively quoting from a book jacket would seem to be the quintessential example of taking someone's words out of context.

> Goldberg simply plugs names into his "these are fascist" template with no regard for the facts.

Maybe he addresses these topics in, you know, the actual book from which the jacket blurb is selected.

Not that you'd care.

By Anonymous jms, at 12/19/2007 6:20 AM  

Go to and read excerpts from the "actual book," jms. Goldberg labels anything he disagrees with as "fascist." In his upside-down universe, Adolf Hitler was actually a liberal socialist in league with the communists. It's a laughable assertion unsupported by the undeniable historical fact that Hitler despised communism and communists. He had them rounded up and murdered, and their property seized. The Nazis were "socialists" in name only. I guess you don't believe that politicians will say anything to get elected. The Nazis were about as "socialist" as George Bush is a "compassionate conservative." That is, of course, to say not at all.

By Anonymous Screamin' Demon, at 12/19/2007 11:30 AM  

jms: One does not need to read the argument to know it's bogus. If Johan Goldberg stated that Tinkerbell was a fascist, must I then purchase the book to get the details in order to refute? You would say yes.

By Blogger Quiddity, at 12/19/2007 7:20 PM  

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