Showing posts with label Jonah-Goldberg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jonah-Goldberg. Show all posts

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The ThinkTank-ospere Goes Post-Modern?

This came from: Dylan Otto Krider (aka Memekiller - on facebook)

Authors of conservative alternative to the biased, crowd-sourced Wikipedia are still removing the liberal parts of the Bible - like the not casting the first stone bit.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Jonah Goldberg says Only Extremists can Build Bridges.

Sound counter-intuitive?

I was reading the intro to Jonah Goldman's just released The Tyrrany of Clichés.  The intro can be accessed the "Tyrrany Blog", created to promote the book.

So here is how he views extremism or some true-blue ideological position vs "the center".  The ideologist of one stripe will build the bridge across the river.  The one of another stripe won't build the bridge at all, but the moderate or centrist will build it half way across the river.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A few new thoughs on Climate Change (and Geoengineering "solutions")

This is in reaction to some discussion I read at

One thing few people seem to appreciate is that just about any big aspect of global climate from the gulf stream that warms Europe to the Monsoon could be balanced on a knife-edge, and we don't know how unstable these things are.  Unfortunately, there has been too much emphasis on changes in the average global temperature on the order of 1-2 degrees C, and many people imagine the warming would be evenly distributed, when the greater probability is that some places will get a lot hotter, or wetter, or dryer and some maybe even a lot colder.  Might it all balance out?  Even there is some balance in the rearrangement of the climate, areas that have been built up and heavily invested in become deserts while some deserts become the new breadbaskets.  To take advantage of the "balance" would require vast redistributions of population.  Geoengineering schemes might plausibly balance the change in average temperature but they won't prevent great shifts from taking place.

It isn't that some elite wants to determine the "proper" temperature.  We should be coming from an essentially conservative reluctance to roll the dice and spread changes around the world that will be lot more drastic than an evenly distributed climate change of 1-2 degrees C.

Some day hopefully in at least a couple of hundred years, the climate might change drastically on its own, as it's done often in the past, but by then there's a chance we might understand the system well enough to manage it.  At this point we don't, and attempting to do so means somebody making decisions for other nations which may not stand for it.

For some of the basis of this point of view, read _With Speed and Violence_ by Fred Pierce, a journalist who is indepent enough to sometimes get on Joe Mann's shit list.

Another thing that makes all this alarming to me is that the right seems to thrive on climate denial very largely because it reinforces the idea that EVERYBODY BUT Fox and friends, the the right wing think tanks are the big liers.  See http://therealtruthprone would guess from a chJonah Goldberg, National-Review,ange ofoject.blo... for elaboration of that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Making Sense of "Liberal Fascism" Part 1

Jonah Goldberg is right on one important count.  Liberals (along with most human beings, though he doesn't point that out) tend to use ideological labels without any real clarity about what they mean, simply as pejoratives.  The one thing that seems to never change is the bipolar nature of our politics.  Republicans may shift from being the party of "America First" (meaning, in the late 30s and very early 40s, "Leave Hitler and the problems of Europe alone) to being the most hawkish and interventionist party, ever since some time around 1950.  Democrats may go from being the party of states rights to being the most prone to promote federal projects and universal national social policies.

It is as old as our nation.  John C. Calhoun made a radical switch from national centralist to the most extreme of states righters as abolitionism began to grow in the North.

Goldberg declares in his introduction "Angry left-wingers shout that all those to their right ... are fascists.  Meanwhile besieged conservatives sit dumbfounded by the nastiness of the slander."  He then writes a 487 page specious argument to "prove" that everyone to his left is a fascist.

The book is published in 2007 when the idea of "besieged conservatives" dumbfounded by nastiness seemed and still seems comically inappropriate.  To me, it appears that movement conservatives have mined the history of the left in America for tactics, both to scold the left for using them (even if it was mostly decades ago) and to make energetic use of them for the right.  For example, the victimhood pose - those poor innocent besieged and dumbfounded conservatives.

The Mises Review of the Ludwig von Mises Institute is surely more hostile to government interventionism (which is almost synonymous with "fascism" as Goldberg used the word). But they do seem to have higher standards of intellectual rigour.

Their review, at
starts with "Jonah Goldberg has ruined what could have been a valuable book" and concludes "Although Liberal Fascism contains much important information, its many mistakes require that it be used with extreme caution. Jonah Goldberg should acquire a more accurate knowledge of history before he presumes to instruct others." (after several specific examples of what the reviewer calls "howlers").

Goldberg has stretched the word "fascist" so it seems to include any vision of nationwide improvement that might involve the government.  For consistency he should probably include public education as a fascist institution, but since the belief in public education isn't limited to liberals that would be inconvenient.  He does however give broad hints that vegetarianism and movements against cruelty to animals might be fascist -- at least they were favored by certain Nazis.

No wonder he can speak of "smiley face" fascism, and put a cute smiley button on the cover with a Hitler moustache.  He seems not to understand what has made fascism (and Nazism and Stalinism which he coyly stays away from) seem like an abomination to most people.  The fact that some liberals have also been too loose in their use of words like "fascist" should not excuse this.

 I should make it clear that I am not in the business of determining the true definition of fascism, or essence of fascism.  We tend (due, I think, to the structure of our minds) to think that where there is a word, there must be a true meaning of that word.  This does not serve us well in the overwhelmingly complex and open-ended world that we live in.

At least if we want to understand what people are saying, we have to accept, for the moment at least, what they mean by words they use -- even, perhaps, how they use a word in a particular context.  When the Marines are "looking for a few good men", they don't mean five or six.

Ultimately, if there is any point in talking about, or listening to someone talk about Fascism, aside from trying to describe and analyze some historical events, then we must try to understand what they mean by it.  I said "talking about, or listening" but in fact I seen no reason to talk about fascism, because it means too many different things to too many people.  And when I hear someone else talking about Fascism, I at best take it with a grain of salt, as their definition of, or more likely their associations with the word are likely to be fuzzy, so generally the use of the word "Fascist" makes me doubt the clarity of the speaker's thinking, or worse, makes me suspect the speaker just uses labels to paint somebody else's philosophy or actions as evil.

What you will do, by calling someone or something Fascist, if the namecalling sticks, is to associate the person or entity with whatever the listener thinks of as fascism".  In that spirit, I would like to explore the "meanings" of fascism in the people's minds.

What Goldberg does, basically, is to give "Fascism" a much broader meaning that what people think of when they hear the word, then announce that liberals are fascists, without any attempt to change what people think of when they hear the word.

I want to examine the qualities of fascism neglected by Goldberg, but which will affect what people hear when they hear that "Liberals are Fascists".  Maybe few people can articulate these qualities (which is why Goldberg's book is effective) but if they were to analyze all the impressions they have gotten from books and movies, these things would show up
  • Ideological absolutism:
  • National or Racial Exclusivity: and a messianic sense of the nation's mission or fate which excludes, or may include the conquering /exterminating of other states, ethnicities, classes, or other excluded groupings.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is "Radical Center" an Oxymoron?

In an era of eXtreme sports and politics, the center is often derided as lukewarm, as we even get Jonah Goldberg claiming absurdly that only extremists can build a bridge.  Some fed-up non-extremists are calling for a "radical center" movement.  Why do we want it to all come down to one side or the other.  "You're either with us or against us.  You're part of the problem or part of the solution.  Only yellow lines and dead armadillos in the center of the road".

The feeling of belonging to one or another side of a momentous conflict is so seductive and feels so natural and right.  I think it is a sort of feeling of "coming home" and being "at home".  This must reflect in some way the tens of thousands of years prior to settled human life.  It is so comfortable to feel one belongs to the Donkey Clan with its long history of standing up to (and sometimes dominating) the Elephant Clan -- or vice versa belonging to the Elephant Clan etc.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Real Truth about Hayek's Book: Road to Serfdom

Never mind the title - I am just poking  at the visceral way we are drawn to  dramatically phrased promises to reveal "The Real Truth", or something like that, especially with hints that this is just for you, the people who aren't easily duped.  I think we are hard-wired that way -- at any rate, I can feel my own blood rising a bit looking at some book title promising to reveal "What they don't want you to know", or "The secret history of X", and in our political debates, whether it's  Hayek's book, Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascists: the Secret History of the American Left..., An Inconvenient Truth, or The Real Anita Hill,  this handy way of getting our attention has been leaned on  heavily.  I'd hate to have to guess how many books has "secret history" in their title.

And so, F. A. Hayek, writing originally in 1944, and very alarmed, for excellent reasons, at the way the world was going, promised to reveal the counterintuitive (to some people) truth that the shining path to the future that supposedly ran through the abolition of private ownership was a "Road to Serfdom", and that all government "planning" puts us on a slippery slope leading to that "Road to Serfdom".  I agree up the the italicized part, but beyond that, have a lot of problems, and I'm afraid so did Hayek.  Does a national road system or education system involve this "planning", which, he indicates we must avoid at all costs?  Apparently not, since he admits (at least in 1944) that these may be necessary and legitimate.  He even says, in this book, at least, that public "safety net" measures - even specifically naming universal health insurance might have a place in a nation that is not on the "road to serfdom".

I would start by saying, in substantial agreement with Hayek:  In my opinion all hard core socialists and Communists failed to see that, whatever bad effects the unequal distribution of wealth may have, their alternative: "ownership by the people" was an imaginary construct more suited to mystical Hegelians, Fascists, and Nazis than to supposedly clear thinking hard headed materialist socialists.

But while "peoples ownership" of all property (or even just the "means of production") is a glib and impossible idea, we can and must talk about how the difficult business of making the "peoples' ownership" of our democratic government -- the Res Publica which is the origin of the word "republican" -- to make this "ownership" as real and substantial as possible.  Can I demonstrate that this "ownership" is really workable?  Not really, not now and maybe never, but I'm pretty positive there is no good alternative to wrestling with what it means to "own" a democracy.  And yes, there is no other way of looking at this than as something we have to face collectively.
To be continued, and continued, and continued...