David Kirkpatrick

July 16, 2008

Fascism on the bookshelf

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:45 pm

Here’s a great set of book reviews from the August/September 2008 print issue of Reason Magazine.

Michael C. Moynihan takes on Naomi Wolf’s The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot and Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and finds both quite lacking — particularly Wolf’s effort — and chastises the current habit of pundits, commentators and bloggers throwing the word “fascist” around willy nilly.

Here’s Monyihan’s summation:

That certain modern ideologies contain trace elements of fascism doesn’t mean that they are in any meaningful way fascist, or even pre-fascist (as the Wolfian left would have it). Not every flag-bedecked rally is Nuremberg, not every Guantanamo Bay is Auschwitz, and not every ill-conceived call for redistribution is a sign of corporatism.

It is important, in times of crisis, when an administration invokes the perennial threat of an external enemy, that a citizenry be vigilant in safeguarding civil liberties, in jealously guarding the constitutionality of invoked wartime powers. But when those self-appointed guardians collapse into “Weimar moment” paranoia, not only is the concept of fascism diluted to the point of meaninglessness, but other, more pressing liberty-related issues are subsumed by the hysteria. When both sides see creeping fascism lurking around every bit of political rhetoric and action they disagree with, then the term doesn’t need to be reappropriated or redefined, it needs to be buried.