"It is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation. The conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do ... not express themselves in ideas but only in irritable mental gestures which ... seek to resemble ideas."
—Lionel Trilling (1950)
Jonah Goldberg—who, I am embarrassed to say, once sullied these very pages as BW's token conservative in a misguided attempt to include the pinhead perspective—has recently published a book: Liberal Fascism. (The title is actually longer than that, but the rest is just long-winded twaddle to make Goldberg sound like he discovered something no one else has thought of.)
Liberal Fascism is the latest dip from that bottomless tub of right-wing slop, so much of which eventually finds its way into book form, seeing as how conservatives will read anything as long as it has the word "Liberal" in the title, associated with something nasty.
Another such title would have us believe that the liberal attitude is the result of a neurological disease. That was Michael Savage's brainchild—Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder. (It's ironic that Savage would accuse others of a mental disorder, as he is one of those guys who would be living in a single-wide trailer in an Arizona desert, talking loudly to himself out amongst the prickly cacti, rattlesnakes and his own feces, were it not for the fact that someone allowed him to have a radio show.)
Another book that maintains the brains of liberals are defective is Michele Malkin's Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild. Then of course, there's Ann Coulter. She writes books, too. I personally don't know anyone who reads her books, but then, I personally don't know anyone who tortures small animals or pinches old ladies, either. I just know the world is cursed with such awful things. Same with Ann Coulter's books. The last one I'm aware of her getting published was called If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans. The title alone, as with most right-wing manuals, is all the message you really need to know about it.
These books are no longer working well for Savage and Malkin and Coulter. There are people who buy them, certainly. But the people who buy them are just more people like Savage and Malkin and Coulter. The Right is feeding off one another like cannibals ... only with fewer manners.
Even so, expect more such books as November approaches. Conservatives, in their own beady way, know they have lost America's respect, trust and attention, and very likely will lose the election. If they were honest, they would put the blame for their collapse where it belongs: on nearly 30 years of frauds, inferior minds and failures, from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to George W. Bush.
But honesty has never been a significant part of the Right's nature.
Instead, they will become evermore screechy in their damnation of liberalism—the guiding light which over a millennium has lead humanity from ignorance to elucidation, from superstition to enlightenment, and from servitude to democracy—hoping that if one of them (Jonah Goldberg, perhaps) hits upon the right formula for the generation of maximum disgust, it may tip the balance just enough to allow one of their own to hold onto the White House. The formula must always start with "Liberals" (or a variant of that theme—e.g. Progressives, The Left, Democrats) and end with the most awful, horrid things their meager imaginations can imagine (e.g. mental disease, treason, sexual deviancy, etc.).
Goldberg chose (or his mommy chose it for him) fascism, no doubt hoping to plug into our visceral horror of what that evil brought to the 20th century. Admittedly, I have only read critiques of his book. I have too much respect for the organ in my skull to directly inject into it any of the sour opiates these pushers peddle. If you don't believe a brain fried up crispy in right-wing ideology is a terrible waste of human potential, look no further than the shriveled souls of Bill O'Reilly, Kate O'Beirne and Bob Novak. Is that the sort of thing you want to see when you look in a mirror?
Still, there are reviews aplenty, and without subjecting myself to Goldberg's own writing—which I know from his stint with BW never goes beyond what any pouty college sophomore could produce—it's not that difficult to grasp the points he's trying to make, just as it's not that difficult to understand what a pedophile is after when he promises a ride home to a school kid. The most absurd claim is that the greatest American leader since Lincoln—that being indisputably (to all but the crazy Right) Franklin D. Roosevelt—was philosophically tethered to the fascism that arose in Spain, Italy and Germany. His evidence seems to be that, since Mussolini and Hitler turned the state into the ultimate arbiter of human affairs, and since Roosevelt used the power of the state to improve the lot of Depression era Americans, then FDR and the monsters of Europe were cut from the same cloth.
Only a fool could make such a claim, and only another fool could believe it.
As one might expect when something is so vile that mere words are inadequate to describe it, the definition of fascism is slippery. But some symptoms have been all-too common among every historically fascist regime: fascists abhor socialism; they are inherently racist; they are patriotic and nationalistic far, far, far beyond a fault; they turn to myth and mysticism and religious simplicity to support their goals; and they invariably mate like snakes with the industrial and corporate giants of their respective lands to finance their agendas.
Now tell me, citizen ... who does that remind you of? Liberals?
The fact is, just as the Right has struggled to redefine "liberal" for decades, they are now reworking the word "fascism" to define anyone but themselves. It is their way: to make all opposition seem as devoid of honor and decency as they are.
Never mind that the real fascists sent untold thousands of the real liberals to their deaths. Never mind that the real fascists did whatever horrid things they could to silence the real intellectuals, the real individualists, the real libertarians, the real lovers of freedom ... the real truth.
Jonah Goldberg believes, just as did Joseph Goebbels, that a lie told big enough is more convincing than the truth.
Only a real fascist could believe in something so ugly.