Alex Koppelman posted an interesting interview over at Salon.com with conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg. The piece is very much worth reading because it sheds some light on the inner workings of one of the Right's most influential minds. The interview follows the release of Goldberg's new book, entitled, "Liberal Fascism," and subtitled, "The Secret History of the American Left From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning."
Koppelman's first question was, "What is this book about?" The first thing Goldberg said in response was, "It's a revisionist history." That should send up a red flag for reality-based readers, no matter their political persuasions, but the book may inadvertently prove more valuable as a documentation of some of the fantastical delusions that drives America's Right today.
Per the interview, I'll give you a few examples of the images of, alternately, liberalism, the Left, and the Democratic Party that Goldberg promoted and often linked to fascism. Follow the link above for the full context of the quotes. In this exercise, I'll follow Goldberg's answers to Koppelman's questions with my own snippy comments.
Enjoy after the jump...
Goldberg: "...I think (fascism) is a religious impulse that resides in all of us -- left, right, black, white, tall, short -- to seek unity in all things, to believe that we need to all work together to go past any of our disagreements and that the state needs to be, almost simply as a pragmatic matter, the pace-setter, the enforcer of this cult of unity. That is what I believe fascism is.
PolJunk: "If KISS put the X in sex , then is Goldberg attempting to put the proverbial "I" in "TEAM"? Phrases such as, "We the People..." and "United We Stand" have been at the core of American political discourse since the country's earliest days. It almost sounds as if Goldberg laments cohesion and is a proponent of a social disunity verging on anarchy.
Goldberg: (Following an attempt to link the organic food movement, among others, to Nazism) "Today we don't use the word 'totalitarian,' because the connotations have been so hardened in our minds. But we use these other words like 'holistic' all the time. This quest for wholism, this idea that everything goes together, that we are all part of a single political, social organism ... was deeply and profoundly central to the intellectual movements and eddies that fed into Nazism."
PolJunk: Earth to Jonah – for better or worse, to some degree we are all interdependent parts of the political and social organisms that are our communities and countries, unless you live alone in a cabin in the middle of the woods in Idaho (like a real 'Mericun). It's not ALL about you, man.
Goldberg: "...but where you get into scarier territory is when you have people saying that you can't smoke in your own home or that you can't eat certain foods or that because of the healthcare system that we have and that Democrats want to expand, since harming yourself costs the taxpayer money, you have no right to harm yourself."
PolJunk: Who the hell is saying you can't smoke in your own home? Okay, I'm sure that if you look long enough, you'll find somebody, but it's a real stretch to try to conflate such an idea with mainstream liberalism, such as it is. If harming oneself costs the taxpayers money, and the Right is hell-bent on eliminating taxes, then shouldn't it follow that conservatives should support efforts by the state to prevent people from harming themselves, if for no reason other than to save money?
Goldberg: "You know, you have environmental groups giving out kits and instructions about how to have environmentally conscious sex. You don't have conservative groups talking about what kind of condoms you should use or what positions you can be in. That kind of thing doesn't really go on."
PolJunk: I may not be as experienced as The Hedgehog, but I have no shame in admitting that I have no idea what environmentally conscious sex might be all about. I'll assume it doesn't involve power tools. Or Hummers, but that would be a shame. Goldberg is correct in that one doesn't often get sex advice from conservatives. Maybe that's because conservatives are so busy insisting that an ignorance-based abstinence-only curriculum is what our public schools (aka "the State") should foist upon our young people. You know, so they don't harm themselves. After all, if we don't tell them, kids will never figure out what to do with those pleasure-inducing things between their legs.
Goldberg: "[T]he vision of the Huxleyian "Brave New World" future is one where everyone's happy. No one's being oppressed, people are walking around chewing hormonal gum, they're having everything done for them, they're being nannied almost into nonexistence. That's the fascism in Hillary Clinton's vision. It's not the Orwellian stamping on a human face thing, it's hugs and kisses and taking care of boo-boos. It is the nanny state."
PolJunk: Somehow, I can't envision Hillary dishing out hugs and kisses to anyone, but that's another matter. So, the state has no business providing remedies for boo-boos? The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was a shining example of what happens when government turns its back on its citizens. Oddly, in this very same interview, Goldberg opines that, "... that is a legitimate function of government: to protect the general welfare, to protect people's privacy and property and lives." So, should the state take care of boo-boos or not?
Oh, and about the nanny state thing: Many on the Right envision American troops being in Iraq for years, if not decades. John McCain recently said that it would be fine with him if American troops were in Iraq for another 100 years. Ironically, it looks to me like the conservative Bush Administration has created the greatest nanny state of all in Iraq. With an unlimited commitment to stay until the job is done (whatever the "job" is, this week), the Iraqis have about as much incentive to take care of themselves as the much maligned "welfare queens" that Ronald Reagan warned us about years ago here at home have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when the government promises to provide endless paychecks for as long as said welfare queens are unemployed.
Goldberg seems to be interested in creating an image of the Left, liberalism, and the Democratic Party, among others, that conveniently embodies the very worst that any "ism," past or present, has to offer. To suggest, as Goldberg does in the interview, that modern American liberalism is a relative of the Naz movement is utterly ridiculous. Conservatives constantly deride liberals for movements such as multi-culturalism; I dare say that the Nazis were pretty far from multi-cultural. If anything, it has been conservatives who have championed the building of a Nazi-like police-state here in America, complete with a suspension of habeas corpus and prison and torture (outsourced, of course) for anyone suspected (not necessarily convicted) of being involved in terrorism, however loosely or politically conveniently that might be defined.
But, then, what else should we expect of a brave, heroic patriot who recently delivered a lecture entitled, "All I am Saying is Give War a Chance"? The always funny Operation Yellow Elephant has a run-down of the event.
Give War a Chance!
Vivi il Fascisimo!