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Jonah Goldberg

Författare till Liberal Fascism

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Om författaren

Jonah Goldberg is the Editor-in-Chief of The Dispatch. He holds the Cliff Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute, and is a fellow at the National Review Institute. He is a Los Angeles Times columnist and member of the "Fox News All-Stars," and he appears regularly on visa mer NPR's Morning Edition. visa färre

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Is Christianity Good for the World? (2008) — Förord, vissa utgåvor238 exemplar


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Still haven't finished it (nor added to shelf the other books I'm reading instead), but I have read more than I read when I first reviewed it. This summary still goes: Seems to be an update and American perspective of the classic "The Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Hayek. Goldberg discusses the Progressive movement of 100 years ago, how it influenced modern liberalism and how much it admired Mussolini. ("Well, at least he made the trains run on time," was a great Progressivist cop out.) Goldberg like Hayek recognizes that a political spectrum that runs all the way from Communism to Fascism is like an alphabet that goes all the way from A to B.

My additional take: Goldberg recognizes that the chief difference between fascism and communism is, respectively, nationalism and internationalism. Beyond that, both promote socialist, centralized economic policies. Both can use coercive tactics to suppress dissent. He is on firm ground in pointing to the fascist tendencies of the early progressives and their heirs. Theodore Roosevelt embraced these tendencies but more so after he had already been president. T. Woodrow Wilson is probably rightly defined by Goldberg as the most fascistic president in U.S. history. As Goldberg points out to those who would say "It can't happen here," it already happened. He is also right to point out that the New Deal of FDR had its dark, fascistic side. This is one of the most interesting sections of the book. (Compare Vardis Fisher's autobiographical novel "Orphans in Gethsemane," which gives a first-hand account of the WPA by someone who was inside and found it oppressive.)

That JFK had a tendency toward fascism is a little more of a stretch, although I think there was that nationalistic, centralized tendency in his policies, which came out in various ways, especially in his rhetoric. He wasn't consistently fascistic, though, crushing the U.S. steel industry on the one hand and lowering taxes on the other. But certainly he was strongly nationalist if mildly socialist.

When Goldberg portrays sixties radicals as facists, however, he seems to be missing his own point. The most radical and violent of these people--Weathermen, Black Panthers, etc.--don't have to be compared to fascists because they were already communists; compare them to the Bolsheviks battling their opponents in the streets of St. Petersburg--that's how they saw themselves. The reason this makes a real difference is that these leftist radicals departed from the NATIONALIST fascism of their supposed predecessors. Wilson and maybe even FDR would have called out the troops and shot them long before Kent State. The sixties radical movement was not monolithic. There were various trends within it, including an instinctive individualist rebellion, but to the extent that they were socialists, most '60s rads got their socialism from their parents who had been '30s communists or other varieties of internationalist socialists. So Goldberg is straining his own conceit to make '60s internationalist socialists fit with earlier fascists. Not to say that the Kennedy/Johnson era did not lead to a climate in which socialist/communist radicals felt empowered and in which they could ally themselves with the Great Society as a platform for further radicalism, but they departed from nationalism, which you can't do and properly still be called a fascist.

Goldberg can always defend George Bush against charges of fascism by saying, at least he is not as bad as Woodrow Wilson. (One might as well say, at least he isn't as bad as Genghis Khan.) This is not for lack of trying on President Bush's part, however.

We live in an era in which even Wilson would be hard pressed to make everyone submit to his vision of nationalism. Each of us now tends to march to the beat of his own drummer, or failing that, we gravitate toward one of various drum-masters available in our fractious society. The president can't tell everyone what to think in the age of the Internet. He has too many competitors.

I would recommend reading this book in combination with "The Cult of the Presidency" by Gene Healy and "Nixonland" by Rick Perlstein, because they are dealing with some of the same material but spinning it according to different agendas.
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MilesFowler | 25 andra recensioner | Jul 16, 2023 |
The structure is muddled and most topics are only mentioned and never exhaustively explored so doesn't really work as a history book. As a polemic it's poor as it's mostly arguments by insinuation. There's even a passage where the author states that he's not saying liberal are bad because of their history yet most of the book serves no other purpose. There's nothing wrong with the book, it's just not very good and none of those things are secrets (at best they are forgotten facts).
Paul_S | 25 andra recensioner | Dec 23, 2020 |
It's like a riot policeman seeing the school bully and then kicking the living shit out of him until he's a wet splotch on the ground and proceeding to make several straw representations of the bully and doing likewise. And then the riot helmet comes off and it's just another bully. What a twist!

Making fun of liberals isn't hard.
Paul_S | 6 andra recensioner | Dec 23, 2020 |
The title of this book might be off-putting to some, which is a shame, because I think it could be of interest to readers who wouldn't think they have much in common with Goldberg. Those who do read Goldberg on a weekly basis won't find anything drastically new, but it's a pretty good recapitulation of his thought over the past two years.

The book works on the assumption that nothing's foreordained. There is no "right side of history." Democracy, capitalism, and human rights are things we stumbled into as a society. Historically speaking, all this has emerged in the blink of an eye. The challenge today is coping with that abundance. Maintaining a civilization takes constant work, and if we're not grateful for what we've received, we're on a fast track to corruption. I found this theme of ingratitude to be slightly uneven throughout, and the mix of history, pop culture, and analysis felt almost too ambitious at times; however, I agree with Goldberg's overall thesis, that without an understanding of where we've come from, we'll cease to defend the ideals of the founders, seizing on shortcuts more and more (see tribalism and Trump).

Some significant points I noted throughout:

Goldberg gives an abbreviated history of the emergence of states and capitalism. The American project was a result of English cultural oddities that got written down, a "glorious accident."

Tribalism is our natural state. Romanticism is "a brilliant intellectual updating of the tribal instinct" that sees the modern world as alienating and wants to revert to finding meaning primarily in and through the tribe.

Governments are based on natural rights that the state has no right, under ordinary circumstances, to violate; states provisionally grant rights, and, according to the French Enlightenment view of the state, take an active role in the guidance of society. Under 20th century progressivism, the administrative state emerged--experts shaping society--"the state taking its own counsel on what society needed." It is revolutionary in this respect and operates outside of the constitutional framework and of democratic transparency. It is basically a new form of aristocracy.

The more complex government makes society, the more it rewards those (i.e., the upper class) with the resources to deal with that complexity, and the more it punishes those who do not. The children of the affluent are educated in how to maneuver in this system—and in the process, they’re learning “a profound and sophisticated ingratitude towards the country they grew up in.” The administrative state is deeply invested in the above. As it succeeds, elitism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. “If you start from the assumption that the people are too stupid to understand what’s in their interest and then proceed to make society a byzantine maze of hurdles, the more likely it is you’ll be able to claim you’re right.”

Trump has profoundly changed our civilizational conversation by reverting to tribalism in many ways.

Increasingly, American life has been reduced to either the individual or the state, flattening civil society (mediating institutions--see [b:The Fractured Republic: Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of Individualism|26240786|The Fractured Republic Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of Individualism|Yuval Levin||46232990]). When the state begins to occupy the place of civil society, it becomes toxic. The erosion of civil society has caused many Americans to flock to partisanship (and virtual communities) to find meaning. Adherence to political parties didn't always look like this.

When the president or the party in power is invested with so much meaning and significance, the “outs” feel like strangers in their own land. Then it’s payback when the other side gets power. “The only solution is to break the cycle by making the state less important and letting the dying reefs of civil society grow back to health.”
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LudieGrace | 4 andra recensioner | Aug 10, 2020 |



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