The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas
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The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  639 ratings  ·  126 reviews
The bestselling author of Liberal Fascism dismantles the progressive myths that are passed-off as wisdom in our schools, media and politics.


According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves that they’re not ideological.


Today, “objective” journ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Sentinel (first published January 1st 2012)
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Hadrian
I normally do not read too often books which are TOO overtly political - often these are just distasteful and overdone exercises in rhetoric which whip up a loyal 'base' and leave all others annoyed or alienated. This is true for both right and left.

Ann Coulter, to use a prominent example, calls herself a "Polemicist" - one who deliberately deals with controversy, and that statement is quite accurate, to her credit. Such is their domain, leave them well alone.

But Goldberg is a new and insidious...more
Phil
I don't watch much TV so I did not know who Mr. Goldberg is. I guess he is considered to be a sort of right winger. But, his writing is great and he exposes modern cliches. I heard him interviewed on PBS radio and knew I had to read the book. I did my normal cautious approach ordered a Kindle sample then got hooked. I have been quoting some great lines from the book. I did not think that it was a criticism of Liberals unless of course you call all people who have knee jerk reactions to things li...more
Adam Bradley
My guess is this book will be treated in much the same way as Jonah's previous one: those who find themselves on the unfavorable side of his arguments will either misunderstand or willfully misconstrue his actual thesis and then go about setting that strawman ablaze.

I vividly recall a political light bulb switching on for me when I read Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" in my freshman year of college: neither scientists nor politicians are ever free from prior philosophical commit...more
Mark
Ok, so I got an advance copy. Really, really entertaining book. Because Liberal Fascism was such a controversial thesis, Jonah couldn't really be as entertaining as he usually is with the writing of that book in order soberly buttress his argument.

This book is much more in the voice of Jonah the columnist and blogger. He does a lot of intellectual heavy lifting, but he's also free to, say, quote Caddyshack at length. The result is that it might be the best and most fun-to-read primer on the ten...more
Dean Anderson
Yes, this is a book about politics; but one of the things I found most interesting was what the book had to say about religion. Goldberg describes himself as a secular Jew but he does a much better job of defending the church and Christianity (past and present) than many Christians (even many in the clergy.)
The basic idea of the book is that many people substitute clichés they’ve heard for any real thinking on a variety of important issues: bumper sticker thinking. Goldberg elaborates in this...more
Patrick
Amazon review:
“We are only as free as the least free among us.” Is that really true, or is it the kind of statement most people will nod at without actually thinking about? Best-selling conservative author Jonah Goldberg calls it a liberal cliché—fundamentally wrong and potentially very dangerous.
According to Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves they’re not ideological. To...more
Mike
Goldberg's thesis appears, to me, to be both novel and sound. It speaks to my personal angst with contemporary American politics; that rare politicians voice forthright opinions, and that the hyper political media is saturated with hollow nothing-statements. There are plenty of identifiable causes of all this -- none less significant than people's apparent preference for big, bold, heroic rhetoric -- and few clear solutions. Goldberg doesn't really offer a plan to improve the situation. Instead...more
Naftoli
Once again another great book by Jonah Goldberg! He is an incisive analyst of, well, anything he cares to write about. This is the 2nd book I've read by him; I find his challenges to the status quo to be cognitively nourishing.

One thing, his section on the witch hunts (beginning on page 243) did not sit well with me. He makes the case that the Catholic church is not as guilty as often portrayed. For example, he claims that the Church *only* condemned & killed 45,000 for witchcraft whereas s...more
Andrew
Quite funny in parts, but the writing lets it down. This was a good idea for a book, but not really followed through in the execution. It is a bit like the book version of Cheese Puffs- momentarily pleasurable but with no real substance.
Manuel B
Goldberg mostly demonstrates, in cases, how liberals are unaware of their liberal biases and also their talking points, that under inspection and with some historical background, show how vapid they are. It's a great book in that regard.

My only problem with Goldberg's book is how defensive he'll became at times throughout the book. He states something the will indubitably offend liberals and walks it back or shows how the other side is at fault as well. Going the "middle way." He won't win favor...more
April
May 02, 2012 April marked it as to-read
I have to read me some Goldberg.
Jenni Haveman
I truly enjoyed Goldberg's latest. Too frequently I acquiesce to the "easy" arguments (in the form of cliches) by others because I don't have a ready response. Goldberg carefully and thoughtfully looks at historical fact and what is ACTUALLY being said when a cliche is used to shore up an argument. Lazy thinking has never worked to make our country a great place, and Mr. Goldberg certainly doesn't allow it!

The chapters are short, easy to understand, and Goldberg's "voice" is humorous and convers...more
Dan
Dec 13, 2012 Dan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Jonah Goldberg and other National Review writers.
Shelves: politics
In "The Tyranny of Cliches" Jonah Goldberg has written an often breezy but ultimately uneven collection of essays. There are highlights to be sure. Sections on "Youth", "Social Justice", and "The Catholic Church" are all worth a read. (In fact, "Youth" should be required reading for anyone under the age of 30 who has ever been tempted to pump a fist while screaming "YES, WE CAN!" or "TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY!") Fans of Goldberg and National Review Online will no doubt find other chapters that are en...more
Alex
Jonah Goldberg is the kind of political writer that most people either love or hate -- not just for his politics, but for the way he talks about it. Personally, while I tend to agree with Goldberg's politics, and am consistently impressed and highly entertained by the incisive, sarcastic wit that permeates all of his writing -- I appreciate Jonah Goldberg's writing mostly because he has a fascinating (and usually very provocative) way of exploring the origins of ideas. This is a theme that both...more
ryan shiitake
Jonah Goldberg is a great and scintillating author whose writing style I found to be highly enjoyable - perhaps a bit Mark Twain-esque, with ample bark, bite, and kick to it. The book is chock full of interesting and (to me) original analogies and explanations that frequently elicited a wry smile from me:

"Dropping Social Darwinism into a conversation is like flinging around Eastern philosophical mumbo jumbo (zen, tao, chi, etc.): Everyone recognizes the words, nobody really knows what they mean...more
Tom Meyer
An interesting and enjoyable book, albeit an uneven one.

It's central argument -- that liberals deceive themselves into thinking they have no ideology and that everyone would agree with them, if only they shrugged off their ignorance and dogma -- is surprisingly sound. With a few notable exceptions such as populist conservativism's belief that it speaks merely for "Real America," the Right tends to be more open an honest about its own ideology and biases. Goldberg convincingly traces this back to...more
Matt
Aug 17, 2013 Matt rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: essays
This was about a 3.5 for me, so as always, point to the author. Goldberg leads of with this quote from George Orwell: "We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. All that follows is an attempt to do just that by pointing out when the obvious has been lost under a mound of familiar, euphemistic, empty-headed, and at times dishonest cliches. One of the organizing principles for Goldberg is that liberals frequently claim they are not id...more
Dale
A Worthy (and Very Different) Follow-Up to Goldberg's Liberal Fascism

Published by Sentinel HC in 2012.

Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism is one of the most profound political books that I have read in my entire life. It changed my view of politics and made me focus a lot of thinking that I had been doing about the actions of government in our daily lives.

So, four years later, I was pleased to hear that Goldberg had written another book. The Tyranny of Cliches is not as serious as Liberal Fascis...more
Andrew
Enjoyable read from an author whose political commentary I generally enjoy, and who I find to be clever and quite bright. His general point is that far too often, mostly meaningless cliches are used as a substitute for an argument, and that many of these cliches are quite ideological even as people pretend that they are not. He defends this point well at the beginning of the book. He follows this up with a long series of chapters with examples of cliches. My main criticism is that while he made...more
Margie
Mr Goldberg makes a very strong case against the Liberal political folks who say a lot without really saying anything or use arguments-that-aren't-really-arguments tactics in order to avoid a real debate on the issues. My favorite quote from his book (more like an essay)in regards to extremism vs. centerism(?) was, "If we say we need one hundred feet of bridge to cross a one-hundred-foot chasm that makes me an extremist. Somebody else says we don't need to build a bridge at all because we don't...more
Jennifer
I'm biased. I'm conservative, and I *heart* Jonah Goldberg. However, that being admitted, this book does its part in turning cliches on their heads. With every revelation, I found myself wondering how a liberal would interpret it. Use this book as a jumping-off point in political discussions, if nothing else.

As always, Jonah's writing style is to-the-point, and, well, funny and entertaining. It's not a light read, but lighter than "Liberal Fascism". Lots of references to "Monty Python" and weed,...more
Kevin
" ..what is lost in these debates [about global warming] is the crucial distinction between science and scientism. The former is a value-neutral enterprise that seeks, through the scientific method, to understand and manipulate the reality of the physical world. Science is a procedure defined by systematic observation and measurement, followed by experiment, and then by the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. It is not the source of moral truths, but moral truths must be inform...more
Matthew
Apr 15, 2013 Matthew rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Political Brawlers
Recommended to Matthew by: National Review
Shelves: politics
Jonah Goldberg is one of my favorite columnists for National Review. His tone is always humorous and his writing is accessible. The Tyranny of Cliches is the first one of his books I have read. The thesis is that the left is so surrounded by people and institutions which reinforce certain political positions that these positions are accepted as unbiased facts rather than policy preferences that may or may not have been thought through thoroughly. It is smart for any kind of movement to instill i...more
David Cooke
Goldberg’s book is an uneven mess that tries to squeeze a few separate ideas for a book into one at the expense of the whole.

The problem with this book is that Goldberg’s agenda forces a few separate ideas for a book into one at the expense of all of it. If he had left the book as an examination of the origin of clichés and how they play a role in tainting how we discuss life and politics, he certainly has enough examples in this book and from the side he chose to ignore that it would have been...more
Rachel
This is not a book I would recommend to just anyone. It's full of truth and snark, so you have to not be put off by his choleric (and sometimes crass) tendencies.

I laughed my way through this book because he's not afraid to call out those who spout cliches with NO historical or economic perspective on political matters. That's what makes Goldberg stand out among all the talking heads today (like conservative Glenn Beck or any liberal commentator on CNN) -- Goldberg actually knows his world hist...more
David Dent
Goldberg writes like I think and is a pleasure to read. He is obviously of the same age and has similar childhood influences as I do, which are a constant source of familiar pop-culture references to his points. His humor is poigniant without being cruel and his writing style is very "humanizing" of all of his subjects. His acknowledgements in the back of the book is very touching regarding the tragic loss of his brother and reminds us all that through all the political discourse and anger, we a...more
Kathryn
I'm a big fan of Jonah Goldberg, so naturally, I liked The Tyranny of Clichés, which is basically an extended G-File. It was a quick, fun read with a lot of interesting information on a variety of topics.

Jonah's overall thesis is that clichés, as an expression of ideology, are a convenient shorthand for arguments (two example clichés from opposite sides of the political spectrum: "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" and "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"). He...more
Heather
This had a lot of really interesting points - especially when he would give the historical basis of some of the phrases we toss around so much. I thought he made some great points, but it was also not super cohesive and organized. And way too many "soap box" moments, if you know what I mean. Perhaps I would have liked this book better if it's purpose had been simply to educate about why we say what we say, and to point out how the use of cliches often shuts down real thought and dialogue. These...more
Stephen
In 1946, George Orwell published his famous essay “Politics and the English Langugae”, decrying what he saw as sloppy writing driven by lazy thinking. His argument was the English Language “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Orwell makes it clear that he has "not been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing...more
Frank Roberts
A refreshing book. Goldberg examines many of the cliches and buzzwords that pervade our public discourse, which substitute for actual thought, and which don't bear up under actual analysis. These include those which have been endowed with positive connotations, such as "Progress", "Diversity", "Unity", "Pragmatism", "Social Justice" ( a particularly insidious one), etc. Also the buzzwords that have been given negative connotations, from "Dogma" to "Ideology" to "Social Darwinism".

Why is "Democr...more
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Jonah Jacob Goldberg is an American conservative syndicated columnist and author. Goldberg is known for his contributions on politics and culture to National Review Online, where he is the editor-at-large. He is the author of Liberal Fascism, which reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list.
More about Jonah Goldberg...
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“Hence the great irony: Hayek, one of the greatest champions of individual liberty and economic freedom the world has ever known, believed that knowledge was communal. Dewey, the champion of socialism and collectivism, believed that knowledge was individual. Hayek's is a philosophy that treats individuals as the best judges of their own self-interests, which in turn yield staggering communal cooperation. Dewey's was the philosophy of a giant, Monty Pythonesque crowd shouting on cue: "We're All Individuals!” 4 likes
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