Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg, Part I

Liberal Facism by Jonah Goldberg
Liberal Facism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change

Re-issued in paperback, with a new afterword.

by Jonah Goldberg

Recommendation: buy a copy today, buy another for your “progressive” friend, and read.

Read Part II, Read Part III.

Here’s what happened.

In 1793, influenced by the writings of weeping pussy-willow philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, and a year after they joyfully stuffed their king in a hole, French intellectuals created the Committee for Public Safety, in which it was decided that the safest thing to do was to lop off as many heads as possible.

L’etat c’est le peuple,“, said Robespierre. “And I know what is best for them, for I am an expert.” It was true: Robespierre was a lawyer and was very smart. He said, “To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency. To forgive them is barbarity.”

However, le peuple soon tired of his jawing, and of slipping on all that blood and staining their clothes. So they ushered Robespierre to the Guillotine of Clemency. And to take his place, they installed the dictator Napoleon. Who decided, in the name of l’égalité, to proportionally kill as many non-French people as he killed French people. “It is for their own good,” he said.

For intellectuals in England, bliss it was to read of rivers running red. True, they reasoned, not everybody who was whacked deserved it, but it was a small price to pay to progress to the socialist utopia that was just over the horizon. Browning wrote in the Old York Times, “You can’t make an omelet without cracking a few skulls.”

Wordsworth, however, had ordered steak. So he turned his back on the Revolution and became the first ever neoconservative. Joined with Burke and a then-sane English government, they defended themselves against the socialist curse, both with ideas and ships o’ the line. Napoleon was defeated.

Later, Marx looked back on the French Revolution and lamented, “Nice try.” He theorized, “Next time wait for the world’s workers to rise up and slaughter their employers. Then we will have true socialism.” Unfortunately for Marx, he blinked out before witnessing the next major blood bath.

Which, after a few false starts, was ushered in by Lenin, an intellectual who agitated for international socialism and the rights of the people. Molotov also fought for rights. He said, “We are all brothers now.” Those that demurred were made to drink his cocktail. One of Lenin’s rights was Full Employment, whose first beneficiaries were coffin makers and gulag guards. In the true socialist spirit, these workers toiled night and day for decades.

Meanwhile, in Italy, Mussolini knew that Marx’s prediction failed. Workers of the world would not spontaneously unite. They needed a boot to the face for motivation. Determined to provide this, he rode his ass to Rome and bundled Italian workers into fascio, opting for national, not international, socialism. “Further,” said he, “I am its duce.”

Lenin was furious. He said, “There can only be one true socialism, and that is international socialism! Further, I am its jiudep.” Mussolini retorted, “Says you!” Result? Schism! The Judean People’s Front was no longer on speaking terms with the People’s Front of Judea.

Though they were on bapping terms. Occasionally, an Italian international socialist would meet an Italian national socialist in the street, and they would begin a doctrinal discussion of workers’ rights, minimum wage laws, and whether it was best to seize the property of, and ban all, religions now or next Tuesday. Tempers ran hot, fists would fly, and Mussolini’s soldiers would march in to restore order.

About the same time in Germany came along Herr Schicklgruber, wearing lederhosen with custom Hindu stitching. He thought his brother to the south hit on a fine idea. “It’s national socialism for us!” he shouted to enthusiastic audiences. “Further, I am its führer.”

Hitler decided to mend fences. He said to Russia and Italy, “Boys, boys! The whole world is watching. Enough bickering! What matters is that we’re all socialists. Can’t we promise to just get along?” Russia agreed, as did Italy, but Hitler promised with his fingers crossed.

Hitler wasn’t done tinkering. “Gee,” he mused, “Wouldn’t life be grand if we didn’t have all these pesky Jews running around? Also, can somebody do something about the party name? It’s too long.” Rumor has it that Goebbels derived the shorthand “Nazi!” after hearing Hitler say “national socialism” while sneezing.

For intellectuals in America, very heaven was it to be young. International, national, who cared! It was socialism at last! They saw the future and it worked. “If only we could have it here!” they lamented. “But the American people just don’t understand how smart we are and how we know better.”

In Part II, we see whether this was true.

Read Part II, Read Part III.


  1. Kevin

    Over many years I had collected bits and pieces of the same evidence Goldberg uses, and had come to conclude that to be part of the political left requires amnesia–lack of introspection and critical thinking might work too, but amnesia works best. Goldberg pulls all sorts of inconvenient facts, quotes, and histories together. I read the book several years ago, and I can’t recall enough specifically to place it in a hierarchy of good reads, but I did keep turning the pages.

  2. tmtisfree

    There are typos hurting my French eyes in “L’etat c’est les peuple” and in “les peuple”. It should be “L’état c’est le peuple” and “le peuple”. Nice article.

  3. Briggs

    Damn. Memorizing the modifiers of French nouns is hard. Thanks tmtisfree; I’ve fixed them.

  4. LeChat

    From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

  5. Ray

    “You can’t make an omelet without cracking a few skulls.”

    And as Orwell used to ask, “OK, where’s the omelet?” The omelet was always going to be ready sometime in the future.

  6. Alan D. McIntire

    LeChat, you should have credited that quote to the liberal hypocrite, Thomas Jefferson. I call him a hypocrite for throwing in that gratuitous statement blaming King George III for the fact that Thomas Jefferson was a practicing slaveholder. On the other hand, conservative G. Washington practiced what Jefferson preached- freeing his slaves.

  7. Bernie

    Alan, I am with you in refernece to that sophist Jefferson.

    Matt, excellent summary.

    Today I had the distinct displeasure of reading about 140 comments at Slate in response to a nasty Max Blumenthal screed. Anyone who doubts the fascist proclivities of our liberal friends should visit these liberal blogs and sample their invective.

  8. Oh the pith! You might turn yourself into a writer after all, young Matty. Keep swinging for the fences — I like it!

  9. TomVonk

    Damn. Memorizing the modifiers of French nouns is hard. Thanks tmtisfree; I’ve fixed them.
    Wanted to write the same correction but my eyes were not sufficiently hurt 🙂
    But actually you are VERY wrong on this point William .
    Nouns are the easiest thing in French with no demands on memory and almost as easy as in english .
    If its plural , you put an S at the end (but for very few exceptions) .
    This gives f.ex “le peuple” and “les peuples” , “la femme” et “les femmes”. As easy as that .

    Now if you want complexity in nouns , try German or even harder , Russian 🙂

  10. Briggs


    You’re right. When thinking of learning German, I always remember this essay by Mark Twain. I’m especially fond of the long nouns he discovered, like Generalstaatsverordnetenversammlungen.

    Uncle Mike,

    I’m blushing.


    Do you have a link?


    Always an excellent example.


    It’s on its way!

  11. Todd

    Excellent book review. I got here through a link that Jonah put on the Corner. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a book report more especially for a book that I have already read. I was surprised though that you didn’t work in either Roosevelt. Space problems I guess.

  12. Briggs


    Have no fear. We’ll meet them all.


    That meter will have to be re-calibrated for this site. I overindulge in the stuff.

  13. Briggs


    Here’s the link Bernie was talking about. I’ve read some of the comments. Bernie was being kind.

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