Monday, December 17, 2007

Not On My List

I don't know how many of you follow this kind of thing, but National Review editor Jonah Goldberg has just published a book entitled Liberal Fascism. Now, before folks on the right who have recently been here take me to task for dismissing something I haven't even read yet, I have to say a few things. Before I say those few things, however, let me just say one thing - the publication of this book angers me more than just about anything in recent memory. Thousands of trees died so this pile of thought-excrement could be presented to the public. This is an environmental disaster of the biggest proportions.

The photo above is the Table of Contents page from Goldberg's alleged book, taken by Bradrocket over at Sadly, No!. Now, if we take this page as a general thematic to Goldberg's "argument", we find several thing that, to those who have been paying attention to political discourse, especially on the fringes, for a long time, might find familiar. The biggest red flag (no irony there) comes in the subtitle to the fourth chapter, in which there is an equation made between the New Deal and fascism. This is an old trope of the right, which didn't emerge until after the Nazis and Fascists were defeated, before which none of them seemed to have much of a problem with either system of government. It is an argument that has been made for fifty years, and dismissed by serious people for just as long. Here it is, however, once again rearing its stupid head once again.

The chapter on the 1960's is the most revealing. Usually, the criticism of 1960's political activism is that it was too far to the left, relying on Marx and mid-century European neo-Marxism. Yet, Goldberg apparently wants to paint it as a phenomenon of the far right. How this circle is squared would be interesting, except that I can imagine the argument goes something like this: Hitler relied upon street thugs to beat up Jews, Socialists, and any other political opponents in his rise to power. The student demonstrators of the 1960's marched in the streets, sometimes engaging in violent confrontation with the authorities who were their political enemies. Therefore, the student demonstrators of the 1960's were brownshirts with long hair and beards. Let us not forget that the leader of the SA, the brownshirts, Ernst Rohm (my computer won't do the tilde over the "o"), was gay. Add all this up and you get . . . I'm not sure what you get, except for a silly, nonsensical argument.

Now, I could be wrong, and Goldberg could have come across a treasure trove of heretofore unknown documents that prove that Abbie Hoffman was a secret admirer of Heinrich Himmler, the Grateful Dead encoded Mussolini speeches in their songs, and marijuana was part and parcel of the initiation rites of the Gestapo. Or he could have just found an orifice from which to pull these "arguments", being careful to wipe his fingers off after he typed.

Like another publication that was supposed to be a "major work" of the "culture wars", Robert Bork's Slouching Towards Gomorrah, I expect this book to be remaindered within a few weeks, so I might actually wait until I am sure the publisher won't pass any royalty checks to Goldberg before I buy it.

I am honestly befuddled by this kind of thing. For far too long, Fascism and Nazism have been presented as phenomena of the right; yet here they are argued to be copied by the American Left. This particular circle cannot be boxed, I think, but I could be wrong, and I and others could be dupes of the most heinous political movement to emerge in Europe since Monarchical Absolutism.

I still think Goldberg is just not as full of crap as he used to be because he has put quite a bit of it in type.

Virtual Tin Cup

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