I have done it. I have hugged Jonah Goldberg. He agreed to take my picture and hugged me — basically. Jonah Goldberg writes for a little something called the National Review. I figure he shook the hands of William F. Buckley more than a few times. I have shaken his hands. Enough said.
Anyway, down to business. If you attended his speech Monday then you got a general summary of his book, Liberal Fascism. An enjoyable read, it discusses how fascism is a phenomenon of the left, not the right (as we define the terms today. Now, if you are like me you are probably saying: “Well, duh.” At least for me this has been intuitive ere I picked up Jonah’s number-one best-seller. For, if a society is totalitarian (a word invented, in this context, by Mussolini) in the sense that politics saturates every aspect of life, what is the difference?
To illustrate the obviousness of this point, Jonah asked a logical question: “In what other subject do we presume two opposites are the same thing?” In other words, if fascism is of the right and communism is of the left yet they both facilitate the exact same outcomes what is the distinction? The differences aren’t so earth-shattering that there is much of a distinction. Which is the point isn’t it?
Now, to be clear, Jonah Goldberg isn’t saying that “liberalism” equals fascism. In fact, he states this numerous times throughout the book. And, when asked how he felt his book had impacted discussion of the subject of fascism he noted that he was upset over how his success has popularized the term fascism on the right. He feels
uncomfortable using the term fascist to describe “liberals” precisely because of how the left has misused the word.
Among my favorite comparisons Goldberg makes between fascism and progressivism is that of the necessity for a “moral equivalent of war.” Back in the day National Socialism under Wilson (attempted by Teddy Roosevelt) was achieved in large part through the mobilization necessitated by World War I. Today, the “moral equivalent of war” is invoked most notably in the left’s desire to fight poverty, in the argument over health care reform, and when discussing environmentalism. These issues touch upon nearly every other aspect of life (as does a literal war) and if the “progressives” can gain control over these areas of your life they will have achieved a totalitarian system of government.
Jonah Goldberg offered a funny, involving speech that, simply put, made my semester (if you add my hugging him).
BTW, Review Crew, a weekly cartoon that depicts UNC student life humorously, is going to start up again. Join us next Friday: