Friday, April 13, 2012

Book review: Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism"

Christopher Blosser, "Reading Jonah Goldberg's 'Liberal Fascism'" (Against the Grain, April 11, 2012). In Goldberg's words:
It is my argument that American liberalism is a totalitarian political religion, but not necessarily an Orwellian one. It is nice, not brutal. Nannying, not bullying. But it is definitely totalitarian–or 'holistic,' if you prefer–in that liberalism today sees no realm of human life that is beyond political significance, from what you eat to what you smoke to what you say. Sex is political. Food is political. Sports, entertainment, your inner motives and outer appearance, all have political salience for liberal fascists. Liberals place their faith in priestly experts who know better, who plan, exhort, badger, and scold. They try to use science to discredit traditional notions of religion and faith, but they speak the language of pluralism and spirituality to defend 'nontraditional' beliefs. Just as with classical fascism, liberal fascists speak of a 'Third Way' between right and left where all good things go together and all hard choices are 'false choices.'

The idea that there are no hard choices–that is, choices between competing goods–is religious and totalitarian because it assumes that all good things are fundamentally compatible. The conservative or classical liberal vision understands that life is unfair, that man is flawed, and that the only perfect society, the only real Utopia, waits for us in the next life. [p. 14]
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