Thursday, January 10, 2008

Refuting a Dangerous Piece of Pseudo-History

A long time ago by web standards -- y'know, last year! -- I argued that Jonah Goldberg's new book "Liberal Fascism" may be nonsense, but it is dangerous nonsense, and thus what were needed was not mere mockery (lots more linked to in my earlier post), but serious refutations, despite the understandable temptation to laugh the book off as ludicrous.

Well, they're starting to come in. And as much as I appreciate demonstrations of how Jonah's magazine has, historically, supported fascists, what I really wanted to see were hard-hitting direct refutations. David Neiwert (who I mentioned before was planning a review) has just published such a one on the American Prospect web site. It's what was needed -- although he could have easily made it thrice the length, really, and I would have been glad to see him do it. (He's promised to post some extra material on his blog, though, so he may yet do so.) But what he did serves the purpose. Here's a taste:
The title alone is enough to indicate its thoroughgoing incoherence: of all the things we know about fascism and the traits that comprise it, one of the few things that historians will readily agree upon is its overwhelming antiliberalism. One might as well write about anti-Semitic neoconservatism, or Ptolemaic quantum theory, or strength in ignorance. Goldberg isn't content to simply create an oxymoron; this entire enterprise, in fact, is classic Newspeak.
Read the whole thing. And I recommend linking the words Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism to that particular web article: it's what people interested in those four word really need to read -- an explanation of precisely why they are so laughable, rather than just the mockery they do in fact deserve.

Update: Niewert has written a lot on Goldberg since I posted this, but I think this is the most significant of his posts. So if you want more, read that. (But read the review first.)

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