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Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  5,461 ratings  ·  562 reviews
“Fascists,” “Brownshirts,” “jackbooted stormtroopers”—such are the insults typically hurled at conservatives by their liberal opponents. Calling someone a fascist is the fastest way to shut them up, defining their views as beyond the political pale. But who are the real fascists in our midst? Liberal Fascism offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices ...more
Hardcover, 405 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Doubleday (first published January 8th 2007)
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Start your review of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
mark monday
Jun 08, 2012 marked it as unread-forever
here's a little something for the book itself:

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and here's something for me, to wash the taste out of my mouth after stumbling upon such extreme stupidity and basically wanting to puke after reading this book's synopsis:

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...more
Owen
Apr 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
From Roger Griffin:

Even if it purports to be (i.e. masquerades as) a thoroughly researched ‘alternative’ or ‘secret’ analysis and history of fascism, Liberal Fascism is to the trained eye a patent exercise in propaganda. Even ‘polemics’ is a euphemism here, implying a provocation to heated debate rather than the attempt to pass off an Ersatz for the real thing. An example of such propagandistic ‘substitution’ is the Nazi attempt to popularize an anti-Semitic variant of jazz to counter the appeal
...more
Varmint
Jan 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In a way, it reminded me of a book on dog psychology i'd read a few years back. So many behaviors made sense when when you realize that there's still a good bit of wolf hardwired in.

Much of liberalism confused the hell out of me. From F.D.R.'s internment of the japanese, to enviromentalist terrorism, to Sean Penn's almost sexual attraction to Hugo Chavez. It only starts to make sense when you understand the fascist impulse at it's core.

A century ago there was one united progressive movement. Le
...more
Kenny
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: current-events
In political circles, there is probably no word more misused and misunderstood than "fascism." Goldberg's exhaustive review of the sources and ideology of fascism prove, once again, that popular meanings are often diametrically opposed to the actual facts: that fascism has historically been a malady of the left, not the right, though there have been a few right-wing fascists, though they are nothing compared with the Mussolinis and Hitlers, both statists and corporatists par excellence. The book ...more
Justin
It’s hard to fully express the horrors of this book. The English language simply doesn’t have the words to truly convey the madness, the irresponsibility, and the laziness that went into the writing and publication of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism. From his feeble grasp of history to the rampant, naked, ugly partisanship he displays, Liberal Fascism is simply one of the worst books written by a modern American author this side of NAMBLA publications.
Let’s start with Goldberg’s understanding o
...more
Brian
Jul 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Total Stars = 3

Entertainment: +.5 Stars
Education: +1 Star
Readability: +.5 star
Innovation: +.5 Stars
Inspiration: +.5 Stars


Good points made by the author.

1. Fascism is a misused term that is often unfairly applied to conservatives. The word is clearly ill-defined and poorly used. It is not right to call our fellow citizen’s by these terms. There are plenty of other good ones to go around (if you need to resort to name calling). Of course name calling is not going to bring anyone around to your
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Those who've read many of my reviews will note that this gets one of my infrequent 5 star ratings. I highly recommend this book...to all thoughtful readers. While there are those who will immediately feel that it's not for them I humbly suggest you at least try it. I don't think you'll be insulted or angered. I'll say a bit more below.

This book was actually extant when George Bush was still president so it probably isn't as current as it might be, sadly. I've been familiar with it for some time
...more
Ian
Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the history of Fascism
Shelves: favorites
(Note that the listed title is wrong. It is actually "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning")

This is a fascinating book. Jonah Goldberg traces the history of "Fascism", from Rousseau through Bismarck, the Progressives, Woodrow Wilson, Mussolini, FDR, the Nazis (remember, "Nazis" is short for "National Socialists" - look at the Nazi party platform: environmentalism, animal rights, organic food (Hitler and many of the top officials were
...more
Marvin
Sorry, Gave this a try. Complete hogwash written by a alleged intellectual for the purpose of rewriting history into a form of right-wing political correctness. Most liberals are vegetarians (a lie right there). Hitler was a vegetarian. Therefore Liberals are fascists. Think I'm kidding? Read the book. As for me I only got a third of the way through it and won't even bother to rate it.
Carol Storm
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Poor Jonah Goldberg! He's a Jew, but he makes his living flattering and defending wealthy Gentiles, many of whom inherited huge fortunes they did nothing to earn. These people don't want to hear anything bad about the selfishness of the rich. They can't abide any criticism of Catholicism, or Christianity. And they certainly don't want to explore any connection between Hitler's anti-Semitism and the traditional teachings of the Catholic church. So here's Jonah, trying to come up with something cl ...more
Winston Jen
May 25, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: politics
Jonah begins his book by equating fascism with totalitarianism, of the kind warned against in Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. What he appears to be railing against is paternalism on a grand scale, where the government controls everything "for our own good." And yet, despite railing against liberal paternalism, he ignores the socially conservative paternalistic fascism that is the result of extreme right-wing Christianity.

He decries college students who can see "nothing wrong" with th
...more
Sean
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
First off, goodreads' got the subtitle wrong, it's "The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning."
This is an incredible book. Some people will be turned off by the provocative title and cover, but don't be fooled: this isn't some Ann Coulterish tome of cleverness, shock value, and name-calling. This is a history book. Goldberg underlines his points with sound research and analysis, and digs up many surprising ideological commonalities between the modern Ameri
...more
Jeanette
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
More than 10 years later this set of definitive "eyes" stands the test of interesting times. You can see the descendant in the ancestor. Very clearly.

Others have said it better in review particulars and it is too long. But the epithets against the author and the logic of observations by posters themselves concerning this author's copy! This brand of method -vilified spewing and distorted in "reaction" snark - it's entirely telling in itself.

Being older, I do remember some of these early outcom
...more
Vincent Pimpinella
Jan 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Because who doesn't love overly contrived bullshit?
Anthony
Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who EVER plans to vote, or presumes to voice an opinion on current political events.
This book is brilliant. It is a look at many aspects of U.S. and World history you THOUGHT you knew. You may be surprised. You will certainly be educated. This isn’t a book you read casually. You will find yourself underlining, cross-referencing, and annotating this book as you go. I was frequently cross-referencing other sources, both for varying perspectives, and to review people and events for which the author presumed background knowledge. Even so, I did not find the process cumbersome or te ...more
Jake
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
As Jonah Goldberg says, having heard to many times how blithely Conservatives are equated to fascists, he set out to prove the philosophical, ethical, and historical continuity between the modern liberal who makes such accusations, and concrete fascism. He makes the point that the word itself doesn't mean much except a synonym for evil with a connotation of the Holocaust. His thesis seems to be that liberalism or progressivism, socialism/Bolshevism and Fascism are all intellectual heirs of a few ...more
Darla
Dec 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Thinkers, and all Americans who bother to vote
Recommended to Darla by: Beck
I've got my new bumper sticker- "Fascist: what liberals call people with whom they disagree."

Finally, some validation for conservative theorists! Hilter was NOT a conservative, nor was Mussolini. They were BOTH liberal, socialists and our current day "Progressives" owe much to their tactics, every bit of which echoes the Hitlerian machine. It is very frustrating that conservatives are labeled as fascists in such a way that is purely fascist in its modus operandi. Those who spout that rhetoric &
...more
Jacki
Apr 28, 2008 rated it liked it
A history of American/European politics.

The main thing I learned from this book: The political spectrum can not easily be divided into Christian vs. atheist or intellectual vs. uneducated or rich vs. poor. Fascism is about using government to create an ideal or evolved state, at the cost of freedom or taxes or what have you vs. than minimizing or restraining government and letting society evolve on it's own. Fascism isn't about racism, or Nazis or military power. So a lot of liberal action and
...more
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
The F Word

I don’t suppose there is any word with less real meaning now than ‘fascist’. Indeed, I begin to wonder if it ever had any meaning. It has a purpose, yes, but that’s quite different. It serves as an insult, an f word greater than the f word, the more frequently used the more meaningless it has become. I suppose there must have been a time when “you fascist b******d”, actually meant “you fascist b******d”, in the sense that one happened to belong to a political party which actually had
...more
Chris Fellows
May 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. The first bit, comparing the dinki-di fascists of Europe with the stated aims and documented actions of Woodrow Wilson and the early 20th century Progressives that shared his ideology, makes a good case. There are some excellent quotes of mutual admiration back and forth across the Atlantic, and Goldberg lifts the rock on a nasty squirming mass of human rights infringments and creepy propaganda from Wilson's war administration.

The section dealing with FDR is le
...more
John Freeman
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
My son, a far-right conservative loaned me this book and I was fascinated with it. I'm a history buff with middle of the road views and started the book with much enthusiasm. The book's discussion of fascism, Mussolini and Hitler is written in a brilliant almost breezy style by a highly intelligent man who has clearly researched his subject thoroughly and is well read. I wondered a little at his saying Hitler is a left-winger but then it's just a matter of definitions. Right?

His history of the W
...more
Tim Pendry
This is an insightful but ultimately flawed polemic from a traditional American conservative who identifies, with some justification, the 'fascistic' tendencies within American progressivism.

Unfortunately, he over-eggs his pudding, is highly selective in his evidence and he clearly does not understand the European philosophical tradition very well.

The book is not going to be of enormous use outside America except in one respect - his criticisms of the third way progressive mentality do hold up
...more
Mark
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
With a Hitler-esque smiley face and the title "Liberal Fascism" gracing the cover, a casual political observer might view Jonah Goldberg's new tome as a work of contradictory hyperbole. But after reading the introduction, it becomes clear that Goldberg is laying out a serious and somewhat-scholarly argument that modern American liberalism is a sibling of the Fascist movements that swept Italy and Germany prior to World War II. His central thesis is that, while "fascism" is a political movement w ...more
Dale
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I want to post some of the content that really grabbed me.

First, from chapter 1 (Introduction: Everything You Know about Fascism is Wrong):

The reason so many progressives were intrigued by both Mussolini’s and Lenin's “experiments” is simple: they saw their reflection in the European looking glass. Philosophically, organizationally, and politically the progressives were as close to authentic, homegrown fascists as any movement America has ever produced. Militaristic, fanatically nationalist, im
...more
Gene
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a very impressive book, and I learned a great deal from it. Beginning with providing a working definition of fascism as seen in the governments formed by Mussolini and Hitler, it proceeded to show how progressivism under Woodrow Wilson and beyond shared some of the same assumptions and goals. It wasn't a cheap shot at the Democratic Party, and it wasn't trying to say that progressives in the US would take this nation where Nazi Germany ended up heading. Instead it showed that there can ...more
Gary
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: state-matters
A second read. Enjoyed it even more the second time.

This is not an easy read, but it is a fun one. Goldberg knows how to insult, but always accurately and never for the mere sake of it.

More importantly, Goldberg is convincing. He proves his case. Fascism is the soil out of which modern liberalism has grown. And that a nice fascism is still fascist. A jackboot grinding on your face is not that much worse than a hug you can never get out of!

Excellent writing, first-rate documentation and razor-sha
...more
John Devlin
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a reader of Goldberg's columns and a lover of his nerdy wonkish newsletter, I was surprised at the scholarly quality of the book. For people who study history his insights aren't wholly new, but he integrates them well and brings much greater power to the synergy of fascist thought.

Progressives, socialist, nazi's are all fascists of a certain stripe. Progressives of the happy face - for your own good, socialists for the workers of the world, and nazi's fascists of race.

All these groups look t
...more
Rebecca
Mar 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: reference-books
I really don't know what I think of this. I liked at least the first half of it a lot; it's written in an engaging style, and it contains a lot of whitewashed history and things I just flat didn't know. It also really turns the way you view the world on its head; or rights it, depending on how you look at it. On the other hand, the second half is more uneven and starts to get a little repetitive. I also found it kind of poorly organized; we'd be trucking along talking about JFK and LBJ and then ...more
Ray Wilkins
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, history
That European Fascism was a product of the Socialist movements sweeping across Europe is clear even without Goldberg's research. What Goldberg does is dive into the details and underlying philosophies that drove both Mussolini and Hitler and how American Progressives were influenced by both men. From a rejection of individualism in favor of collectivism, the desire to create a new world order, and the infatuation with Eugenics, Progressives share a legacy that is rooted, not in classical liberal ...more
Rick Davis
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful, careful, well researched, and devastating.
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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.

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