"Fascists," "Brownshirts," "jackbooted stormtroopers"…
conservatives are all too frequently tarred with such insulting
labels. It's a way to cast conservative views as being
somehow "beyond the political pale." Not only are the slurs unfair,
they are historically misplaced as well.
In Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the
original fascists hailed from the left. An international movement,
fascism took on different forms in different countries, reflecting
the vagaries of national culture and temperament. Hitler's
Nazis were ardent socialists. They believed in free health care and
guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast
sums on public education. They purged the church from public
policy, supported abortion and gun control, and inserted the
authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily
While fascism in Germany found its ultimate expression as
genocidal, racist nationalism, in America, it assumed a
"friendlier" form. Many fascist tenets were espoused by American
progressives like John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR
incorporated many of the movement's policies in the New Deal.
If this observation sounds strange to modern ears, Goldberg argues,
it's only because most Americans have forgotten the policies and
principles that truly define fascism.
Jonah Goldberg is a nationally syndicated columnist and an
editor-at-large for the National Review and the
National Review Online.