Jonah Goldberg put a lot of effort into this book. Instead of writing a polemic diatribe against the nasty left, he took his time and meticulously researched and documented the lineage of the present day progressive. The book is shocking in its simplicity. The facts are there for anyone honest enough to search them out. The insidious aspect of the tactics used by modern day progressives is that the facts are actually unimportant, the issues are actually unimportant. These modern day versions of Mussolini don’t differ much in their opinions about the pragmatic nature of their philosophy.
According to Goldberg, because they inherently “know” what is best, everything is a tool. Power is the ultimate objective. Arthur Bullard, one of President Wilson’s appointees, summed this up thusly, “The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it’s true or false.”
Liberal Fascism is packed with examples, quotes, and research on the sources and birthright of what he calls Liberal Fascism. He makes the point over and over again that Fascism is little understood today, and the term has been co-opted to mean simply racist bad guys that disagree with the left. He shows just how ironic it is that in actuality fascism is and has always been a movement of the left!
Goldberg sets the stage with a working definition of fascism and then proceeds to prove that his definition is correct.
Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the “problem” and therefore defined as the enemy.
Goldberg incorporates a lot of history into his proofs. He goes back to the French Revolution and makes a case to suggest that it was perhaps the first example of fascism in action. Jumping forward a bit, he analyzes the actions and words of progressive icons like Wilson and FDR. What is most interesting is how these and other 20th century progressives made no bones about their admiration for folks like Hitler and Mussolini. Just as today’s crop of progressives make no secret of the their admiration for Wilson, FDR and Sol Alinsky.
It is obviously not practical to replicate all of the many points made in this book in the course of a short review. However, here are some interesting quotes from early progressives:
“The opposition tells us we ought not to rule a people without their consent. I answer, the rule of liberty, that all just governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed, applies only to those who are capable of self-government.” Senator Albert J. Beveridge (Wilson contemporary)
Who gets to decide if the people are capable of self-government? Beveridge was referring to the US population.
“… we are not afraid of exploring anything within the law, and we have a lawyer who will declare anything you want to do legal.” Harry Hopkins (FDR Aide)
Compare this with the infamous Yosi Sergant conference call.
The author also chronicles the imperative for mobilization that progressives yearn and long for.
“… there are some splendid things that come to a nation through the discipline of war.” Woodrow Wilson
There are echoes of this in today’s administration’s Rahm Emanuel’s assertion that “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste — and what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you didn’t think you could do before.”
Reading the history of Wilson’s actions during WWI and FDR’s during WWII is quite an eye opener. In WWI Wilson instituted the CPI, Committee for Public Information as well as the War Industries Board and the American Protective League. According to the author, “… it has been estimated that some 175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another. All were punished, many went to jail”. In WWII FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps and Japanese internment camps were indicative of the kinds of things possible when in crisis mode. FDR talked about the CCC camps as giving youth a purpose in that it would keep them “off the street corners”.
Here’s a snippet from serve.gov‘s about page:
“The President has said that the challenges America faces are unprecedented, and that we need to build a new foundation for economic growth in America. The Administration has begun this work with dramatic new investments in education, health care and clean energy, but we cannot do this alone here in Washington. Economic recovery is as much about what you’re doing in your communities as what we’re doing in Washington – and it’s going to take all of us, working together.”
One cannot read this book, which was written in 2007, without being astonished by the prescience of the author. There are countless examples (like those referenced above) that pop out in the news which validate the points Goldberg makes in his book.