Last Spring…

David Neiwert's The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, which sliced and diced the preposterous right wing revisionism of Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism," got a fair amount of attention in the press. Here's a brief taste of it:

And yet, here we are two years later, and it turns out that many people indeed have taken Goldberg’s book seriously.  Not only was Liberal Fascism a national bestseller, but its core thesis – that, "properly understood, fascism is not a phenomenon of the right at all.  Instead, it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left” – has become widely accepted conventional wisdom among American conservatives, and has played a significant role in the national discourse. 

Nowhere is this more evident than at gatherings of the Tea Party movement, the right-wing populist phenomenon that has sprung up in opposition to the policies for which Barack Obama was elected president.  It is common at Tea Party rallies to see signs equating Obama with Hitler, and declaring the current regime “fascist.”

The proof that it got such attention…

Can be seen here in this Google search.

But THAT was then…

And since that time, you can find very little substantive attention to either his book, or the revisionist memes that Goldberg has created among conservatives and the growing, quasi-fascist Teaparty movement (and I'm using the real meaning of fascism here).

His screed has literally rewritten history for much of the country, and much of the Left is simply letting it happen. There is no ongoing push-back to remind scholars, historians, the media, and the public, that his screed was almost universally debunked by credible academics and pundits. It doesn't matter that two years ago, or last spring, this issue came to light again. What does matter is that the light faded far too fast.

This wasn't some minor tweaked view of an historical event. It's a major rewrite and falsification of one of the most destructive political phenomena in the history of civilization.  To allow such a false history to prevail is analogous to winking at claims that the holocaust never happened, or the Apollo 11 lunar landing was staged. It's a slap in the face to all of humanity when such lies are institutionalized, not so much because the lie has all that much strength or appeal, but because people who know better did so little to adequately redress the lies in a focused, organized manner.

To my knowledge, my "American Fascism" post/debunker, here on this site, is one of the only examples of such focused attention that I can find. And that's patently absurd–and dangerous.

If Left leaning and centrist-publishers don't step up and keep denouncing phony histories on a continuing basis, they WILL soon become the official versions, taught in our nation's schools. Why? Because school boards are now heavily infiltrated by far-right ideologues in Texas and other influential school districts.

And these hyper-politicized, Uber-partisan boards have no interest in curriculums which don't support or reinforce the political or religious views of their more vocal or authoritative members.  If Goldberg's view of Fascism is not adequately discredited, nationally and globally, and very soon, it might well become the only definition school children, and future generations ever see.

And even if it never gets quite that bad, the damage it does do will be seen almost daily in among conservative news outlets like Fox News,,, or countless right wing blogs and hyper-locals. And all of those meme makers matter–a lot. There is already a vast network of them, and all repeating the same bad information. There is no mechanism on the left which can rival that bullshit echo chamber. There is no organized truth machinery tasked with balancing the vast right wing lie-machinery.

This situation cannot be allowed to stand

The only solution is for TheNation, Salon, Slate, The New Republic, DailyKos, Alternet, ThinkProgress, and all the other major Progressive publications to use recent teaparty successes, and the deliberate obstructionism of the Republicans, as a pretext to resurface and revisit Goldberg's Lie, and ensure that everyone knows it's not just lie, but a massive whopper of a lie. And they must infuse the debunking into stories whenever they can, so that present and future students of history are continuously reminded of the dualism that now exists between the right wing's portrayal of fascism, and its historical reality.

If they do not, they will only have themselves to blame as this—and other false memes—are allowed to become our collective "truths."



Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. Websters

Fascism:  A political regime, usually totalitarian, ideologically based on centralized government, government control of business, repression of criticism or opposition, a leader cult and exalting the state and/or religion above individual rights. Wikipedia

Popular Views of Fascism Have Been Deliberately Distorted

While the term has been thrown around by the left and the right, often in incoherent or contradictory ways for nearly a century, the root meaning of fascism comes down to a few basic concepts revolving around an exaggerated emphasis on nationalism and the state's hegemony over individuals, often at the expense of personal liberty.  This control is always facilitated entirely by and for private interests operating with impunity within a legally protected framework afforded to incorporated entities. This state of affairs is most often portrayed and rationalized as some form of democratically enabled, market-driven capitalist society benefiting from what is posited as the infallible efficiencies inherent in free markets, and various popular conceptions of "free enterprise."

Fascism, in the broadest sense, does not have to connote a top-down authoritarian regime of elites, but rather, a convergence of many private interests that jointly manipulate government, typically using a mandate derived from  exploiting economic malaise, or a fierce and often misguided sense of nationalism. Often, the fascist's hold on power is propagated and perpetuated by contrived, false, or exaggerated claims of national threat from foreign bodies, immigrants, minorities, and most socially liberal beliefs, faiths, and policies.

Over the past two years, Jonah Goldberg, an editor and hack scholar with the conservative National Review, and son of arch-partisan Lucianne Goldberg (from the Monica Lewinsky scandals of the Clinton administration) fooled a lot of people by completely distorting the commonly held academic views of fascism by publishing a disingenuously manipulative screed titled "Liberal Fascism." 

Inspired by a personal grudge against his many liberal critics, and mostly relying on bogus interpretations of fascism that were used by Stalin to discredit the rising German "social democrats," he simply disregarded 75 years of scholarship on the subject, and used his stature with a hard right wing publication to push a contrived mess of a thesis onto a willing right wing constituency that welcomed an intellectualized rationalization of their contempt for liberalism. 

David Oshinsky of The New York Times wrote: "Liberal Fascism is less an expose of left-wing hypocrisy than a chance to exact political revenge. Yet the title of his book aside, what distinguishes Goldberg from the Sean Hannitys and Michael Savages is a witty intelligence that deals in ideas as well as insults — no mean feat in the nasty world of the culture wars. Source.

David Neiwert, a journalist,and author of the Eliminationists, writes: "And yet, here we are two years later, and it turns out that many people indeed have taken Goldberg’s book seriously.  Not only was Liberal Fascism a national bestseller, but its core thesis – that, "properly understood, fascism is not a phenomenon of the right at all.  Instead, it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left” – has become widely accepted conventional wisdom among American conservatives, and has played a significant role in the national discourse." Read vital debunker

This preposterous polemic was propelled to the top if the NY Times best seller list, using a common right-wing tactic of marketing it heavily to right wing ideologues, often tying it into various subscription promotions.  Goldberg enjoyed himself immensely, fending off any opportunity to debate his views in open forum, precisely because he knew it was all a crock pot of nonsensical lies and distortions which were easy to sell to people who were themselves, the bread and butter patriots of any movement deserving the fascist label. When you have hyper-partisan thugs like Andrew Breitbart, Sean Hannity, and all the other ideological thugs to promote a book, once can make a lot of money telling fairy tales. And he did.

And he just didn't care about the relative falsities he perpetuated. His world view is perfectly aligned with the more opportunistic aspects of fascist ideology, but he lacks the intellectual courage to admit it. He projected all the worst aspects of the fascist ideology onto liberals, knowing that a massive right wing echo chamber, led by Fox news, can make it "truth." And so it has in fact come to be thus for millions of Fox viewers, who also, perhaps not coincidentally, think that the Fox propaganda network is "the most trusted name in news." 

As "Tea parties" and other fascist-like–if not overtly fascist–movements now gain steam in America, propelled by economic hardship and fierce partisan propaganda advanced by right wing Internet sites and Fox news, we on the left have to start reversing these lies by summoning every sensible historian and scholar to start correcting the historical record and populist memes.  If we don't, we may quickly find ourselves under the treads of a new and nuclear-armed fascist tank we might once have stopped.

I hope this reader might start a trend on the left, and in academia, to start rebooting the history of the fascist reality for millions of people who are far too susceptible to the organized lying that has become our national religion, of late.

Any person with a high school education, who reads the REAL history of fascism, and its mechanisms, should be able to understand why it's the antithesis of liberalism, and why it was all the more clever to try and equate the two in the minds of the people they know are already but a few steps away from Brown shirts. That's why you hear Obama bashers, who can't define liberals, capitalism, OR fascism, throwing around the term "fascist" whenever Obama gets mentioned. It's not just stupid; it may be deadly.


Overviews of Fascist Trends in America

Chomsky Warns of Risk of Fascism in America | The Progressive New

“I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio,” he said, “and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.

Part I – Fascist America: Are we there yet?

..our fascist American future now looms very large in the front windshield — and those of us who value American democracy need to understand how we got here, what’s changing now, and what’s at stake in the very near future if these people are allowed to win — or even hold their ground.

Part II – Fascist America: The last turnoff

Part III – Resistance for the long haul

The Details

Five Stages of Fascism, Robert Paxton

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps, Naomi Wolfe

Back Stories



Fascism: What It Is and How To Fight It, by Leon Trotsky

Right Wing Distortions & Misinformation

The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right (Review)

Jonah Goldberg's tendentious history of liberalism- By Timothy Noah – Slate


American Conservative Movement in PicturesWashington 9/12 Teaparty, 2009. A photo essay by @strwbrry_blonde that gives you a sense of what rampant, misguided nationalism can look like, up close and personal.

VIDEO ~ White Power in The USA (and Inside the Teaparty) — The language of white supremacy is very similar to what the Teaparty is now selling. It takes about 15 minutes for this video to really get there, but look for the many similarities throughout. If this is indeed the emerging America of the 21st century, we're in very, very deep trouble.

Please Help

This reading list was just a quick and dirty. I would like to assemble a very large library of reading on this topic. If you have good materials and authors, please post them as comments, or email them to me.

Try this at home

Get out a notepad, and spend an hour reading these two articles, which, while pretty general, do a very good job of reciting the bullet points of these eras.

As you read, write down points of interest which you think clearly resonate with our present populist "rebellions."  They don't have to be exact matches. They merely have to resonate with the kinds of social forces, resentments, and anger which allowed these hideous histories to evolve.

Then, tweet what you see, as a single assertion or statement, and include the word #Fascismy. I will watch that tag, and pull what you tweet into a post that summarizes what you see.  Don't hesitate to use more than 140 characters via services like, or

My point is not to suggest we ARE precisely like these previous moments in history.  Only… repeat.. ONLY to illustrate that there ARE, in fact, many such parallels that are painfully obvious to anyone that bothers to note them. Not with generalities or trite gestures such as drawing mustaches on Presidents, but with real specifics of historical fact.

What you do with that information is entirely up to you. I feel it's important that we all remind ourselves that sometimes, history is what happens; it's not always what we see coming until it's already past, and its damage done.

Oh, should you comment with something about Godwin's law, my response will probably be simply this.