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Thursday, January 17, 2008 

Jon Stewart SPANKS Jonah Goldberg For Right Wing Historical Revisionism

Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large for National Review Online and rightwing extremist, had his political ass spanked by Jon Stewart on 'A Daily Show', last night.

Goldberg is the political alchemist who has penned a bizarre book called Liberal Fascism. In it, he uses his idiotic right wing logic to explain why 'liberals' have labeled Mussolini a 'fascist':
"The reason why we see fascism as a thing of the right is because fascism was originally a form of right-wing socialism. Mussolini was born a socialist, he died a socialist, he never abandoned his love of socialism, he was one of the most important socialist intellectuals in Europe and was one of the most important socialist activists in Italy, and the only reason he got dubbed a fascist and therefore a right-winger is because he supported World War I."

To quote Nicole Belle, "Um, actually, not so much. Mussolini was dubbed a fascist because he founded the Fascist Party, you big, fact-ignoring dope."

Canada's master political revisionist and hater, Kate at smalldeadanimals, simply loves Goldberg. I'm not surprised ...

Here is the link to a clip of the interview with Jonah Goldberg.

Jonah Goldberg gets a stiff reception at Hannity and Colmes on Fox. He's written up at:


Troy! Excellent, I had not seen that one! Thanks!

Buckdog, you have made absolutely zero legitimate point against Goldberg - as did Jon Stewart. All you've done is describe him as an "extremist," which is just dumb, frankly. What's so extreme about Goldberg?

All Stewart did was smirk and refuse to acknowledge clear factual points from Goldberg. Now, there might be some legitimate counterpoints to some of what Goldberg says - but Stewart didn't begin to make any of them. That would be partly because he obviously hadn't read the book.

Just in case you have some intention of intellectual honesty, before you congratulate Stewart on his smarminess you might want to consider Goldberg's title. Stewart simply dismissed the concept of "liberal fascism" as an oxymoron. However, Goldberg did not just make that phrase up. He got it from the famous progressive author HG Wells - who meant it as a compliment.

Rather than just smearing a political opponent with arbitrary labels, you really ought to give some consideration of what they are actually saying.

More here:

Al, in your January 17th post, you have made absolutely zero legitimate point for Goldberg . All you've done is describe him as an "intellectual," which is just dumb, frankly. What's so intellectual about Goldberg?

Al, what exactly are you talking about?
Are you saying liberal fascism isn't an oxymoran? Buckdog and Jon Stewart don't have to argue anything. It's not a theory that fascism is a far right phenomenon. It's a fact.
Nobody with dignity will confuse Goldberg's statement as being relevant. It's irrelevant, and deserves to be dismissed and ridiculed, and pointed out for what it is: a manipulation, and muddying of the debate of what fascism actually is.
Now, if you want somebody to take time to review Goldberg's book, go to Orcinus, and you'll see Goldberg's book taken apart piece by piece and revealed for the cynical farce it truly is.

Oh now Leftdog, this feigned ignorance won't do. I don't particularly need to make a defense of Jonah being "intellectual." But you're doing the same thing that Stewart did, simply refusing to understand his points.

Specifically, if you read even just my little post, you would see two specific points that Goldberg managed to get in on the Stewart show explaining and establishing his basic point that the collectivist ideas of the original fascists like Mussolini were supported by the "progressive" socialist left wingers like HG Wells and The New Republic. Then there's Hillary's village full of video monitors with government propaganda. Do you not see the 1984ishness of this?

In short, Goldberg has a lot of legitimate points with factual and historical backing. You might argue against some them or say that he takes his argument too far in some places, but neither you nor Stewart has made even one little half-assed attempt to answer to any of Goldberg's mostly pretty reasonable arguments.

Simply refusing to acknowledge a point is not a counter-argument or any kind of refutation.

Brother Thomas, lacking dignity I take Jonah Goldberg quite seriously. You're on that same silly Jon Stewart point of declaring a term invalid and presuming to shut down debate.

No, "liberal fascism" is NOT an oxymoron or contradiction in terms. In the broadest sense, fascism involves the interest of the state or collective to rule over the issues or concerns of individuals. This would very much include the thinking of a lot of "progressive" modern socialist types, such as Hillary Clinton. She herself prefers the term "progressive" to "liberal." That might get confused with "classical liberal," which is the opposite of Mussolini or Hillary's village taking control of raising your child.

Again, Jonah did NOT make up the term "liberal fascism." It was coined many years ago by a proponent of such things, the author HG Wells. He also described his progressive ideals as "enlightened Nazism."

Goldberg is not muddying the historical waters, but clearing them up with facts and connections. Perhaps you say he's "muddying" the waters because his clarity makes it difficult for you to see what you want to see.

Al, it's not that Goldberg's suddenly stumbled onto a new idea of what fascism is, and has to announce it to the world.
People have been observing fascism for a long time. Since you've brought up George Orwell, here's his observation on a link between Socialism and Fascism:

The Lion and the Unicorn:
Fascism, at any rate the German version, is a form of capitalism that borrows from Socialism just such features as will make it efficient for war purposes....
But the idea underlying Fascism is irreconcilably different from that which underlies Socialism. Socialism aims, ultimately, at a world-state of free and equal human beings. It takes the equality of human rights for granted. Nazism assumes just the opposite. The driving force behind the Nazi movement is the belief in human inequality....

Personally I think that Ron Paul's recent comments on 'fascism' has raised questions about what 'fascism' actally is. Hence we see some very intense and aggressive spin from the Right to try and 'redefine' what has been a generally accepted political definition.

Al ... you are spinning like a spinning top on this one!

Brother Thomas quotes George Orwell

Fascism, at any rate the German version, is a form of capitalism that borrows from Socialism just such features as will make it efficient for war purposes....
But the idea underlying Fascism is irreconcilably different from that which underlies Socialism. Socialism aims, ultimately, at a world-state of free and equal human beings. It takes the equality of human rights for granted. Nazism assumes just the opposite.

I see very little connection between these comments and reality, even if the comments came from one of my heroes. Socialists and communists differ from Mussolini or Hitler mostly rhetorically. They get to carry on about a dictatorship of the proletariat rather than of the Nietzchean ubermensch.

But in the practice, what was the difference between Hitler and Stalin? The Nazis were National SOCIALISTS. That there was some corrupted form of "capitalism" involved is in no way an indictment of free market economics.

In the usage, "progressive" is just a nicer sounding word for socialist. They all have plans to solve every human problem, and they're not shy about wielding the heavy hand of government, and especially of the federal government in doing so.

This might unfortunately necessitate giving Hillary the whip hand over, for starters, all aspects of all health care related industries - but of course they're doing it to help The Poor People, so it's ok to stomp on Evil Drug Companies and such. Not that she would entirely do away with capitalism and private ownership, borrowing from Socialism just such features as will make it efficient for their very good purposes.

But saying you're doing things for The People instead of the Supermen doesn't change the essence of the authoritarian control. And giving a central government prominent control over people's lives does not in the practice and could never even in theory truly be working for "freedom" certainly, or any kind of equality other than perhaps keeping folks equally miserable and oppressed.

All of which is secondary to the point that both the fascist and communist socialistic movements shared ideas and support among Western progressives, and very minimal among right wingers. It was HG Wells and The New Republic that liked Mussolini - not Robert Taft.

Leftdog might wish to declare that there is a commonly accepted definition of fascism, which is to say that conservative types are fascists and good liberal progressives are not - again by definiton.

But that's bogus definitions with no relation to the historical realities. FDR and his socialist apparatchiks stole the good name of "liberal" to apply to their thieving commie ways, but that still doesn't make FDR into James Madison.

Likewise socialists might wish to declare themselves the champions of individual freedom - and claim that this is obviously true by "a generally accepted political definition." But that the leftwingers all nod their heads in agreement does not make it true.

Confiscatory taxes and regulation, and the presumption that the federal government can tell you stuff like how much water you can have in your toilet tank are objectively and in reality anti-freedom and anti-individual. No amount of leftist spinning can change that reality.

Al - While I believe that totalitarian Left nations and totalitarian Right nations blur in terms of their abuses, I still see that Goldberg is trying soften the far Right wing's connection to 'fascism'.

In his article, "Fascism Anyone?, Laurence Britt compared the recognized fascist regimes of Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet and identified 14 characteristics common to them all. These 14 points can be used in diagnosing an existing or developing fascist administration:

1.) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2.) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3.) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4.) Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5.) Rampant Sexism: The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6.) Controlled Mass Media: Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7.) Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses

8.) Religion and Government are Intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9.) Corporate Power is Protected: The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10.) Organized Labour is Suppressed: Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11.) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12.) Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations

13.) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections: Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Points 8-9-10-11 are clearly consistent with fascism of the Right - and NOT dissimilar to Bush's administration!

Mr Thomas, you may conjure up a quote, but it's a stupid quote. The Nazis called themselves socialists. Also, they practiced socialist economic policies, with government heavily dominating all things with business and industry.

Leftdog, from different sides we could get semantical connections based on slightly re-framing as "authoritarian" or "totalitarian." Not that there might not be some point of possible legitimate point to some of it.

But Goldberg has written a history book, re-examining forgotten connections between early Mussolini and Hitler and American progressives such as HG Wells. Those are specific, documentable factual connections.

On the other hand is that big fascist checklist you posted above. I've seen that before, and find it somewhat less than useless. Whereas Jonah Goldberg is very specific and reviewable in his claims, this checklist is just a broad mush.

This starts out extra-stupid with the very first item, "nationalism." Basically this is premised on thinking that simply flying a flag is already a proto-fascist act. That's pretty much to say that patriotism per se, any pride in national identity, is automatically suspect. But there was a LITTLE bit more to being a Nazi than marching in parades with flags.

His point #8 about fascists combining religion and government is largely wrong. The classic fascist governments like Mussolini and Hitler were pretty anti-religious. The Nazis especially had their own cult-like belief systems, but that's not the same as co-opting and co-mingling with religious groups. I'd figure you'd likely find a lot more fascist suppression of religion rather than co-opting.

In short, it's just plain foolishness to suggest as you seem to that Bush's affinity with Christian groups is a section 8 demonstration of fascist impulse. Being pro-life does not make Bush a fascist. Is Obama also a fascist for being tied personally to a fairly strongly opinionated pastor and church? None of this bears any similarity to Mussolini or Hitler.

What is the basis for your calling a chapter 11 fascist violation on Bush? What, Bush is a fascist cause he doesn't do what left wing academics want him to?

Plus, the original concept of the chapter 11 is obviously bogus. "governments often refuse to fund the arts." So you're a fascist if you don't think the government should be picking up the tab for PBS? That's just silly.

Plus, Bush has NOT de-funded the arts. I WISH he would oppose all government art funding. I'd like him better. I support separation of art and state.

What say you about this from The American Conservative:

Goldberg’s Trivial Pursuit:
"Not without reason was Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism widely expected to be a bad book. As many predicted from the title, Goldberg does not content himself with rebuking those who call anyone who disagrees with them a fascist. Instead, he invents reasons of his own for calling anyone who disagrees with Jonah Goldberg a fascist. Liberal Fascism confirms anew George Orwell’s remark—cited by Goldberg without irony—that fascism has no meaning today other than “something not desirable

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, Jonah Goldberg, Doubleday, 496 pages

Liberal Fascism completes Goldberg’s transformation from chipper humorist into humorless ideologue. Perhaps it was hubris that made him do it.

Austin W. Bramwell

On point 11, I think that the Bush admin could be accused of interference in science for political purposes:

"U.S. scientists have been pressured to make their writings on global warming fit with the Bush administration's skepticism on the topic, a U.S. Congressional committee has been told.

A survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists found 150 climate scientists had personally experienced political interference in their work over the past five years. The survey had 279 respondents.

At least 435 incidents were recorded, representatives of the watchdog group told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee."

I've never read The American Conservative to know their general outlook, but this quote is not based on facts. Goldberg is NOT just calling anyone who disagrees with him a fascist. HG Wells, for starters, CALLED HIMSELF a "liberal fascist." The New Republic openly supported Mussolini. Those things are NOT just name calling. Goldberg has not just posted a couple dozen harsh words on a blog, but has written a carefully researched book documenting these connections.

Goldberg is not just smearing people, but making reasonable connections. Hillary Clinton wrote about wanting video loops for people to be constantly watching at government offices and such (containing of course very nice helpful information on how to raise your child). Shouldn't someone point out the Orwellian nature of that?

That point about the climate scientists, I can't make any judgment, but I would presume that it's bogus unless I saw some real evidence. Then again, I don't care enough to go looking for stuff on that petty level. It might be that there are horror stories of oppressed scientists that would make the hair stand up on the back of you neck.

However, I would find it easy to believe that it's nothing at all. I see no reason that Bush would really care that much to try to suppress climatologists - and that they're self-aggrandizing to think they're that important. Subject to evidence to the contrary, I would find it more likely that any time any of these people have a boss complain in any way about their work, that they would be tempted to spin that up in their minds as oppression from the White House. No, they didn't just write a shoddy report - it was CHENEY trying to stop them from telling The Truth!!!

Al, thanks for the email AND I also have to say I am quite enjoying our discussion here on Goldberg! Your site is awesome! A great find and I am glad to make your acquaintance!

Leftdog- I am likewise pleased to make pals. By way of making friendly with y'all here, please come on over to my house and raid my stash at www.morethings.com/mp3

Al! Grandpa Jones's 'I'm No Communist' is an absolute gem of a find! Wow! What a piece of history!

"I wish they'd [HUAC] take and put me on the witness stand today. I'd shout so loud ol' Stalin could hear me all the way."

"I'm No Communist" was the official theme song of my 2004 campaign for US Senate

Al, now that shows a lot of class. I saw Grandpa Jones sing at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, but he never did that song. Grandpa would have been proud that someone used one of his songs as theme to a bid to the United States Senate. Good for you! That is classic!!!

In the same way that "...the leftwingers all nod their heads in agreement does not make it true," the fact that "Socialism" being a part of the "Nazi" portmanteau didn't make them socialists. They could have called their movement "Namar" and proclaimed themselves to be National Martianists, but it probably wouldn't have been any truer.

Mussolini renounced socialism in no uncertain terms, and further, described the definition of "fascism" to be closer to "corporatism" than anything else. I suppose he had no idea what he was talking about when describing his own creation, so it's good that Jonah can tell us what BM REALLY meant.

David Rockefeller makes no bones whatsoever about working towards one world govt. Does ANYONE make the claim that Rockefellers are socialists? If so, I've never heard it. Accepting that fascism=corporatism and socialism is pretty antithetical to corporatism, I'd have to conclude that the R's are more fascist than socialist.

I've no way to dispute or interpret New Republic's "endorsement" of Mussonlini in any depth, or with any accuracy. I assume it must be based on more than its agreement with Horace Kallen's suggestion that each country should be allowed to be self-determining and thus the world ought to stand back and see how Fascism developed and what it achieved.

Goldberg's type of sophistry is very much akin to labelling the current Bush family as Nazis because of Prescott's business dealings with that regime. In fact, it's probably much more on point than Goldberg's specious linkage. The fact that the phrase originated with Wells doesn't make it any more true, either.

socialism - a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

That would certainly describe the governments of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and to a somewhat lesser degree FDR. Hillary wanting the "village" ie the government to take charge of raising and programming your children, that's socialistic and fascistic. Those things tend to go together.

I think when we look at 'left wing totalitarianism' versus 'right wing totalitarianism', you can see that there are endless similarities. A Red fascist is no less 'totalitarian' than a corporate fascist or a religious fascist. They all tend to blur at the extremes of the political spectrum. But attacking every aspect of the 'left' and holding them responsible for Stalin's activities is as silly as attacking every aspect of the 'right' and holding them responsible for Benito or Adolph.

Leftdog, you're right that there are all kinds of slightly different connotations and denotations of "liberal" "fascist" "progressive" or "totalitarian." It's hard telling where rightwing starts and leftwing stops. Hitler and his national socialists "fascism" was different from Stalin's "communism" mostly only rhetorically.

They both believed in the government running countries for their own glorious ends. I'm inclined to look at things more as how much and how centralized the political powers are vs how much they intend on staying out of the way of free people rather than "left" and "right."

But this bit here is responding to an attack no one is making "attacking every aspect of the 'left' and holding them responsible for Stalin's activities" No one is doing that, certainly not Jonah Goldberg.

Some lefties seem to think that Goldberg's argument is that liberals are all just like Hitler. Na na, boo boo, stick your head in doo doo.

In fact, Mr Goldberg has a fairly scholarly book length historical analysis examining the support that Mussolini in particular had among American progressives, and what the common grounds were why that would be look good.

Nor does he just completely say that anything that might reasonably be labeled "fascist" is inexorably horrible and bad. Note that he has a chapter titled "We're All Fascists Now."

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