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Jan 09

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

"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 life.

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.

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Jonah Goldberg

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Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.

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