JONAH GOLDBERG: "Liberal Fascism"
By Ron Radosh
For decades, the left has used the term "fascist" to attack just about anyone they disagree with. That behavior continues: The feminist author Naomi Wolf has recently come out with a book condemning what she calls the "fascist shift" in America, in which she describes the 10 steps she thinks America is taking that lead to fascism. (Of course, to Ms. Wolf the no. 1 fascist is President Bush.)
Before her, the liberal journalist Joe Conason wrote a book titled "It Can Happen Here" — what could happen, of course, was American fascism emanating from the Bush administration. And the journalist Chris Hedges argued that the Christian right was composed of nothing but "American Fascists" — indeed the very title of his book on the subject.
Now, from the conservative side, Jonah Goldberg — who is rightfully fed up with the left's regularly and somewhat indiscriminately calling conservatives fascist — turns the tide by addressing the issue head on, in Liberal Fascism: 'The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning'. Not only is it a slander to yell fascist at the right; Mr. Goldberg presents a strong and compelling case that the very idea of fascism emanated from the ranks of liberalism. As he argues, contemporary liberalism descended from the ranks of 20th-century progressivism, and "shares intellectual roots with European fascism."
When Mr. Goldberg uses the term "liberal fascism," he is not offering a right-wing version of the left's smears. He knows it is a loaded term. What he is talking about is the historical idea of fascism: a corporatist and statist social structure that creates a deep reliance of its subjects on the government and engenders a sense of community and purpose. In American politics, this tendency toward statism has always been much more at home on the left than on the right.