Jonah Goldberg – Socialism, Communism and Liberal Fascism

hi everybody welcome Polkinghorne her vision of values here at Grove City College thank you and say that and I have the honor of introducing our speaker jonah goldberg who is yeah great to have him here wonderful to have him here so fellow the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor at National Review best-selling author is nationally syndicated columns appear in hundreds of papers around the country so weekly columnist for the LA Times a member of the editorial of the board of contributors to USA Today Fox News contributor of course you see him on there a lot regular member of the Fox News all-stars on special report with with Bret Baier he's the founding editor you guys of National Review Online so the founding editor of net and that's quite an accomplishment right I mean that is the go-to source for for conservative viewpoints in fact I need to mention students if you go to national slash college you can get a free digital subscription to National Review Online so that's National Review calm slash college right mate free free digital subscription for college students he is also Jonah the Atlantic magazine identified Jonah is one of the top 50 political commentators in America that's should be in the top 10 the top 15 among his awards 2011 he was named the Robert Novak journalist of the year at CPAC and he's written on politics media culture for a wide variety of publications spoken on numerous television programs radio I feel like I shouldn't even introduce him I don't know why I mean he all know him is the author of two New York Times bestsellers the tyranny of cliches 2012 in liberal fascism right liberal fascism and I wanted to share just a couple of my favorite jonah isms out there one quote if there is ever a fascist takeover in America it will come not in the form of stormtroopers kicking down doors but with lawyers and social workers saying I'm from the government and I'm here to help another America's political system used to be about the pursuit of happiness now more and more of us want to stop chasing it and have it delivered right I don't know if that one's even funny is it if we say that anyone who more eliza's must be perfect morally than we are in effect saying that no one can moralize they use that one all the time right when you make any mention of morali liberals are uncomfortable with the topic of patriotism because their core philosophical impulses are to make America a different country than it is is back to David Horowitz is earlier statement maybe Obama fundamental transformation of America different idea what it is couple more I think there needs to be a meeting to set an agenda for more meetings about meetings a brief perusal of the last hundred years of economic journalism from the left would have you believe that the most prosperous century in human history was one long extended economic crisis mat-su and finally I think this is maybe a good one to wrap-up on for progressives fascist is a conservative who's winning and arguments so areas Jonah Goldberg wow that was great uh I'm never gonna give me a podium I want warm pants um so first of all I want to say how great it is to be here this I get a lot of this kind of pressure right where I'm supposed to be like amusing and thoughtful and it it's a tough act to sustain because kind of makes you feel like you want to be both a veterinarian and a taxidermist because that way you know you could promise you'll get your dog back no matter what just off I should say and those of you who've heard me speak publicly anytime the last 15 years can probably attest to this I was a very generous introduction I thought it was too generous but it left out one thing which I have mentioned almost every single public talk I have given for over a decade which is that when the LA Times picked me up as a columnist Barbra Streisand publicly cancelled her subscription and protests I should have retired then because those want to leave on a high note you know so it's a great honor to be here I don't know if Paul McNulty remembers this but I used to talk to him on the phone all the time when I was a little policy known at the American Enterprise Institute 25 years ago and he would explain to me how the crime bill worked back when he was working on the hill so it's great to see him we just saw this fantastic presentation by Paul hanger about the Pope and Ronald Reagan he did a whole big PowerPoint presentation I am NOT going to do that because I agree with Lord Acton that power corrupts and power point corrupts absolutely [Applause] so I want to congratulate you know Grove City for putting on this conference I think it's a great idea to do you know if we lived in a healthier more confident civilization basically every serious university in the country would be having a similar conference this year on this anniversary so for those of you don't know I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan we are one of the very few political conservative families around we were sort of like Christians in ancient Rome you know yeah you meet Central Park and you draw a little sea in the dirt you know I'll meet you in the catacombs under save ours you know and and my dad who I got so much with my it was the author of my being in a lot of different ways but one of the he had very few hobbies he liked to go to Europe to look at museums and he liked to use the other side of the couch to read different magazines and that was about it but one of his only other hobbies was he hated communism and he hated it with a true passion and I remember when I was a kid I'm younger than I am now but I remember well in 89 when the Berlin Wall was coming down I was watching a cross fire for those of you don't know crossfire I used to be the show on CNN and future historians will trace the decline of Western civilization to its airing but that's I've talked for another time and I remember there was this guy some pinhead liberal guy who's saying how the real victims in all of this are American conservatives because they're losing their boogeyman and I remember how enraged this made my dad because for him anti-communism was this profoundly morally serious thing about Liberty about freedom about the worth of human beings and to write it off as if it's like having a good issue in a midterm election profoundly disgusted him and it's funny just how life kind of works my wife is the daughter of another pretty serious anti-communist he he literally when I say literally I don't mean figuratively the way Joe Biden means literally he literally slammed the danube to escape the Communists his village had been conquered by both Nazis and by communists he spent a year in a refugee camp came here with nothing ended up getting a master's degree from Milton Friedman and moving to Fairbanks Alaska his wife eventually met the Pope we just had that talk and he ended up owning a chain of supermarkets in Fairbanks Alaska the place having not raising nine kids and his auntie communism is palpable I mean it's kind of ironic too because he kind of looks you know he kind of looks like a member of the Ukrainian polar Bureau circa 1973 but that's a different issue so it's funny I was trying to think about what to talk about tonight and you know since this is the anniversary of 1917 I think one of the points that a lot of people don't appreciate we all we all know how the presence changes the futures right the decisions we make today it will cascade through history and all that kind of stuff but we really understand or appreciate how much the present changes the past and what I mean by that so for most of my are the first half of my life let's say 1917 was this hugely important event it was this event that was the sort of that launched the focus of evil in the modern world as Ronald Reagan would put it or it helped organize the tire geopolitical order it enslaved hundreds of millions of people under communism and then in nineteen 1989 1917 all of a sudden seem less like this enduring threat and more like the closing parentheses on a certain chapter in our lives and then we had that what my friend Charles Krauthammer calls that holiday from history of the 1990s and then on 2000 in 2001 on 9/11 all of a sudden 1917 which was already fading away as an important date in our lives all sudden seemed like it might be replaced with was it late 1923 when the Ottoman Empire ended or what was it 19 I have in 1932 when the Wahabis got control of Saudi Arabia and all the sudden look like maybe there's this new civilizational struggle which was really the old civilizational struggle coming back and it in my only point is is that the present can change the past in kind of shocking ways and you never know when you look back what could end up mattering more so you've already heard I would guess a great deal about communism you're gonna hear a great deal more about it tomorrow I'm sorry by the way if I'm drinking a lot of water I supposed to be enormous amount of pot before I got here and I I get this crazy dry mouth and I've been testing that joke on audiences for years and I get to find one that's truly offended by it um because all the kids are like do you think he's really smoking pot in there and all the old people think I'm making fun of people who smoke pot so it works anyway so so I wrote a book called liberal fascism it did pretty well it's in a bunch of languages now it's in serbo-croatian and Russian and all these cool languages but it's not in German and Italian which i think is on purpose but anyway I wrote liberal passion for a bunch of reasons and one of them was you know when I was a kid on the Upper West Side of Manhattan growing up learning about politics reading National Review listening to my father I could never really figure out why all of these people would say that the views about is by my dad we're fascist I just never made any sense to man like long before I started cracking the books and doing all my research even a brief survey of the historical literature will reveal you can look it up yourselves there weren't a lot of Nazi Goldberg's and then later when I first got my job at the American Enterprise Institute where it was my first job in Washington I was there when Charles Marie's book the bell curve came out and all I remember watching TV one night on the local news and they were showing archival footage from Nuremberg rallies you know with Hitler coming in and all the goose-stepping and stuff and saying a controversial new book raises an ominous specter blah blah blah blah blah and they were talking about the bell curve now you can have problems with the bell curve that's completely legitimate but charles murray is a so good friend of mine he's a soaked to the bone libertarian who honestly and sincerely doesn't believe the government is qualified to collect your garbage the idea that he wanted to put people in camps was just sort of insane and then I remember when the contract with america came out that was sort of my formative time in washington you know the early 1990s and i remember all of a sudden everyone was attacking the contract with america we know which called for things like zero based budgeting term limiting committee chairs and i remember people you know remember member of democratic members of congress saying that this was literally genocide Charlie Rangel said and I'm swear I'm not making up this up he said Hitler wasn't even talking about doing things like this which is true Hitler wasn't talking about the zero based budgeting or eliminating committee chairs or any of that kind of stuff so I'm not gonna get too deep in the weeds on why the left is always convinced that they are fighting fascism it's a myth that endures it's not going away we've seen it just this week once again at Berkeley where these goons call themselves anti thaw which is short for anti fascist and it's the irony it shouldn't be lost on anyone since their free speech denying thugs using organized political violence and will be utterly recognizable as brown shirts to a sane society and it's funny long before I wrote the book I would go on college campuses and I would talk about tax cuts or whatever and kids would say some kid would say you know you know some kid with like open-toed shoes in a closed mind would say well that sounds fascist and I always used to like to ask them you know well you know can you explain something to me except for the murder bigotry genocide and war what is it exactly about Nazism that you don't like and they would always look at me with this sort of Pierce tongue-tied silence sort of like the way my old basset hound would look at me when I would try to feed it a grape just was total unblinking in comprehension and then I would run through this long list which I'm not gonna do a whole list cuz I'm not here to talk about a ten year old book but I would run through this long list and among the things that would point out was the Nazis were socialists the Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser he explained this pretty well I mean it's little abstruse but I think this quote works he said and I'll read this exactly we are socialists and I went on to say we are enemies deadly enemies of today's capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak it's unfair wage system it's a moral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money the first speech that attracts the Adolphe Hitler to the Nazi Party was titled how and by what means is capitalism to be destroyed the Nazi Party platform which was co-written by Hitler in 1920 demanded guaranteed jobs the abolition of incomes are earned by work which is basically so they will Elizabeth Warren approach to finance the nationalization of all large corporations and trusts profit sharing in all industries expanded old-age insurance a government takeover of big department stores sort of like what people trying to do with Walmart their prohibition of child labor and all sorts of other progressive reforms I could do the same thing all day long with Benito Mussolini was actually the guy who coins fascism it's where fascism comes from as Italy not from Germany there's a big debate among scholars about whether or not Nazi Germany was using fascist but it gets a very technical we're not going to do that but Benito Mussolini was socialists here in the title ildo che is the head of the Italian Socialist Party not the Italian fascist party his father used to read Das Kapital to him as a bedtime story the name Benito isn't even Italian and Spanish he was named after Benito Juarez the Mexican you know leftist revolutionary so one of the things I used to do when I would give the liberal fascism talk because I replied the visitor from Mars test and the visitors from Mars test is this is one things that made the book so controversial was that I actually defined my terms and it's really easy to call someone a fascist when you define it as everything you don't like right it's much harder when you actually say okay people leave in terms of public policy here's what they believe this and so I lay out all the different things that fascist regimes you know believed and say I have a visitor from Mars and you give him this checklist and you haven't walk around the twentieth century there is no way that an objective observer who wasn't preloaded with all the biases and spin and rhetoric wouldn't identify fascist Italy and Nazi Germany as some kind of socialism they weren't as socialistic as communist Russia I've always admitted that Leon Trotsky's to call fascism right-wing socialism a legitimate way to call it but it's on the right end of socialism it's not this has nothing to do with America modern American conservatism in the anglo-american tradition it's completely different things statism its nationalism anyway so when I do this people get really mad and whenever I sort of suggest that Hitler or Mussolini should be placed somewhere on the left side of the political spectrum they constantly say that's not possible and the most common it's really fascinating it's been ten years now and I run into this every 48 seconds the first two answers they all give is that's not possible because Hitler attacked independent labor unions and because Hitler killed a lot of socialists and I okay how are independent labor unions doing in Cuba how do independent labor unions go do fair under Stalin by the way I'm pretty sure Stalin killed some socialists and you run into this problem all the time and it turns out that it's it's they just don't want them on their team they think it's outrageous they want to believe that people who believe in limited government the Constitution who believe in reverence for the transcendent and Christianity and Judaism must actually be really law a lot like a bunch of atheists atheistic socialists because it's bad PR to say otherwise so anyway enough about liberal fascism for a moment I want to do a different visitor from Mars test which has to do with the book I'm working on now and I want to explain that and I hope it will help you understand I don't consider it to be a sequel to liberal fascism it's a it's more of a prequel so imagine your of alien Mach doesn't really don't have to be from Mars imagine you're an alien and you're assigned to come to Planet Earth to check up on how homo sapiens are doing and you started going about 200 250 thousand years ago you bring your notebook and let's say you start at 200,000 years ago and you show up and you see how almost check in on some Homo sapiens here's what you would write in your notebook send me hairless apes foraging and fighting for food come back in ten thousand years semi hairless apes foraging and fighting for food come back another ten thousand years semi hairless apes foraging and fighting for food you do this 19 times writing basically the same thing in your notebook on the twentieth time you get here just in time to write in your notebook that you saw Miley Cyrus twerking at the Superbowl the reason I bring this up is that almost all of the material progress that has occurred in the history of our species has happened in the last 10,000 years and about 98% of that has occurred in the last 250 years the last 300 years economic historian David Landis has got this great line where he says the Englishman of 1750 which was at the time the richest country in the world was closer and material things to Caesar's Legionnaires than to his own great-grandchildren Todd Buchholz another great economist says for most of man's life on earth he has lived no better on two legs than he had on for my point is poverty is natural poverty is man's natural environment poverty is the factory presets of the human condition Deirdre McCloskey writes about this big influence on me she's the one who first pointed out to me and showed me the research and all of us that for seventy five hundred generations and there's no this is not controversial whatsoever among left-wing right-wing economists it doesn't matter this is basic standard mainstream for seventy five hundred generations Homo sapiens humans everywhere in the world lived on average for $3 on three dollars a day true of ancient China ancient Rome South America the Puritans three dollars a day until about this early 1700s right everybody in this room is descended from poor people most of you if the statistics are right one maybe two generations from poor people company maybe three maybe there's a random Rothschild in the back of the room who goes back ten ten generations and I'm if that's the case I'm sure someone from Grove City development would like to talk to you so only it happened once and only once in all of human history and it happened in England a little bit in Holland what happened in England so the reason why it happened is because of what I call the Lockean revolution this idea that we it doesn't come from John Locke the great thing about John Locke is he sort of wrote it down and then the founding father was cryptid but he represents it you could pick Adam Smith if you want you pick Edmund Burke what has two thumbs and loves Edinburgh this guy you know it doesn't matter because my point is is that it happened by accident it happened organically it wasn't planned if liberal democratic capitalism were natural you would think it would have showed up a little earlier the the evolutionary record prior to the you know prior to the 1700s it didn't I didn't think about Max Weber you know everyone says what about Max Weber 's Protestant ethic in the spirit of capital well it's a great and important theory but what people don't understand about it is that he's not arguing that the Calvinists of the Quakers or the Puritans invented capitalism they invented a new theological interpretation about how they should live their lives in accordance to their faith with Jesus Christ and in part of it had to do with predestination that if you lived a certain way that if you looked like you were the kind of person who's who might be predestined to go to heaven it might boost your odds a little bit that you're going to heaven it was not a get-rich-quick scheme it was about piety it was about living a certain decent and moral life in your faith and it just happened that if you lived according to these strange new values it was much more likely that you were going to get rich it's known planned it it was all an athlete accidental offshoot now I should say I am not actually eager to make a materialist godless case for all this kind of stuff one of the things I'm trying to do in this project is I don't want to argue with the left on their own terms there's too much of the writing on the right it's certainly too much of the TV and the speaking on the right is geared towards audiences that already agree with you and one of the things I'm trying to do is work on the left's own terms the left isn't gonna be persuaded if you say well god-given rights right or does it God did it deus ex machina doesn't work on people who don't believe in deus ex machina arguments you have to work on their own terms but I do think as a matter of sociology the simple fact is there's a lot be an idea which I sort of define it that our rights come from God not from government that we are individuals first that the individual is sovereign we are captains of ourselves that we are citizens not subjects the government belongs to us we do not belong to it that the fruits of our labors first and foremost belong to us long before Karl Marx John Locke had a Labour theory of value that's when he based all the property in was this idea that you create property and you create value and therefore it belongs to you it doesn't belong to the government and these ideas come from it I wanted to give all that little set up just because when I talk to conservative audiences when I say the following stuff it kind of clangs off their ears like a monkey wrench off their forehead but the argument I book is that capitalism is unnatural liberty is unnatural the Garden of Eden if it existed was a slum we are designed by evolution to want to live in small bands of hunter-gatherers if there was something in our genetic software that said you're supposed to organize and liberal democratic capitalism you would think it would have happened you know maybe 240,000 years earlier but it didn't and that's the amazing thing it only happened once everyone let's talk about the hockey stick you know this global warming thing about how carbon emissions go like this and that's an argument for another time that's a much less interesting hockey stick the really fascinating hockey stick the most important hockey stick in all of human history is the one that says we all lived on three dollars a day everywhere around the world for 250,000 years and then once and only once it started to go like this and has been taking off ever since in the last 40 years there has been the greatest reduction of extreme poverty in all of human history and it wasn't the UN program that did it it was markets and that is something that we don't celebrate in this country we don't cheer I understand outsourcing jobs I understand protectionism all the rest but we could at least acknowledge that we literally lifted you know billions of people out of poverty based upon free trade markets property rights the rule of law and that seems like something to be proud of so what does all this have to do with communism or for that matter of fascism well my argument and I leave this for a long time I wrote about it a bit in the book was they like all forms of totalitarianism authoritarianism socialism are simply manifestations of the same innate desire to escape modernity to escape the Enlightenment to escape Liberal Democratic capitalism to scape freedom these different movements whether you want to call them left-wing or right-wing the guts themselves up with modernistic language prattle on about scientific socialism but they are all in the truest sense reactionary communism is simply tribalism for one class workers of the world unite right fascism is tribalism of one state nationalism is tribalism of one race there are all different ideologies trying to restore that sense of belonging and tribal you know social solidarity that our brains want us to have and it's funny it's worth pointing out since we're talking about communism because this is a big pet peeve of mine you often hear from political science professors and historians that socialism nationalism are opposites right you'll get these spectrums and they'll say that you know liberals who will say well I'm not a communist and I'm not a fascist because we all know that the extremes meet right and you know first of all when they do the circle thing they say the extremes mean this is a profound category error right this is what Alexis de Tocqueville will call clear but false idea nowhere else in life do extremes meet nothing can be so hot it's cold nothing gonna be so tall it's short another gonna be so fat it's thin very rarely you do hear the bulldog puppies are so ugly they're cute but beyond that it just doesn't happen and more to the point everywhere in the world where communist movements and communist regimes took power in very short order they became nationalist regimes this is what happened in the Soviet Union by the night by the early 1930s Soviet Union was a nationalistic country when they fought the world fought World War two was the Great Patriotic War for Mother Russia that was not a world as workers of the world unite kind of idea same thing is true of North Vietnam same thing is true in Cuba same thing is true in North Korea and North Korea doesn't even talk about Marxism anymore there's now this nationalist genetic sort of Hitler right ideology called Jew che if you take speeches by lugo Chavez or Maduro half and you just interchange socialists and nationalists that sentences don't change their meaning socialized medicine is nationalized health care when you nationalize an industry you're socializing in the industry these are not opposite things they may have different winners and losers based upon some political coalition but at a fundamental metaphysical philosophical level they're all basically different forms of trying to get get across the sort of tribalistic idea of economics and social organization so Friedrich Hayek who's you know one of my favorites and if he's not yours hopefully this school reeducate you he writes in his last book the fatal conceit about the microcosm and the macrocosm and the German sociologist which I promised I wouldn't get to deepen as my wife always gets mad at me when I talk about this but the German sociologist will call this Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft and basically they mean the same thing the Gazelle shaft is the extended order it's the law of cut it's the order of contracts the rule of law how strangers react to each other or deal with each other through markets and exchange de mineshaft is the community right this is what Pike needs by the microcosm the community the small community the family the tribe and you know the way I always try to you know explain this to college kids is in a very real way I am a communist in my family I am a communist I do not charge my daughter for food do not put price tags on her clothes right I don't I don't I don't present her with a bill for rent every month every month inside your family for the most part Marx's victim of from each according to his needs to each according to his ability holds true and that's as it should be the Joseph Schumpeter and others have argued that the family is the core of what keeps capitalism going because capitalism depends on values and principles that capitalism it alone cannot create you cannot restore once lost and so the family is what civilized people it's what teaches people all of those things that Weber is talking about in the Protestant ethic about delayed gratification honor about decency about piety all of those things come from the family and in the family you know in very rare cases you might have some contract with your kid about you know if they do if they get X grades they'll get a car right but for the most part we don't use the principles of the macrocosm inside the microcosm the problem is that and this is my heart this is sort of the essence of my argument is that every attempt to create every form of totalitarianism every form of authoritarianism every form of tyranny since the dawn of man is based upon the idea that we can take the principles of the microcosm and apply them to the macrocosm Mussolini Hitler all of these guys Stalin they all cast themselves as the father of the entire nation or the schoolmaster of the entire nation they all want to treat us the entire society is one family this is the essence the entire 20th century the entire history of 20th century of liberalism is the history of this argument called the moral equivalent of war which said which was coined by William James and it is basically this argument that all of society would work so much better if we'd wrap dropped our petty associations or individual pursuits and worked around it worked for big things together like an army organized like an army it has informed all of 20th century liberalism Woodrow Wilson don't get me started on him the entire warp and woof of this country was reformulated into a war economy under under Woodrow Wilson political prisoners people put in jail censorship the first propaganda ministry in Western civilization and when the war ended and we had a return to normalcy and the Republicans came in and let all the 6,000 political prisoners out of jail liberals smoked like a big dog whose food bowl had been moved the rest of the decade saying you don't understand we blew it we should have we should be following what we were doing during the or we should still be organized we planned in war was the motto of George soul one of the major intellectuals of the time the New Deal was modeled on moral equivalent of war the new frontier was modeled on the moral equivalent of war when Jimmy Carter wore his fetching sweater and said that the energy crisis was such a big deal we have to make it the moral equivalent of war Barack Obama in his Converter of the Davises 2011 State of the Union address he said wouldn't be great if we could if the whole country could be just like SEAL Team 6 where they dropped all of their partisan differences they dropped all of their petty disputes and they rallied around a single cause for the betterment of their country and I wrote a column about this like I've made a lot of people mad I thought this was disgusting this is Spartan ISM right we do not have a top-flight military in this country to provide a model of best practices of how you should organize in the domestic parts of our lives we have a top-flight military in this country so that the rest of us can be free you know this is this is the essence of tyranny and it comes from a good place it comes from this desire you know why should we have to have markets why should we have to play you know use money why can't we just all live together the way we did when we were in tribes where we all shared everything everything was communal that idea comes very well very much from romanticism Jacques Rousseau was the father of Romanticism Jacques Rousseau believed in the idea of the novel's noble savage she didn't coin it but his basic argument was that the Enlightenment was a con that everybody was worse off because of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment and we'd all be better if we went back to living in the trees and this incitement was you know the famous line is man is born free yet everywhere he's in Chains and the upshot of that argument is that the system is rigged right the system is fixed it's no good it rewards the people at the top we are also much happier when we all live free there's a reason why Rousseau considers the the perfect political entity other than his native Geneva to be Sparta because it was all working together towards the same thing and this is the fundamental sort of difference between left and right I would argue is Rousseau versus Locke who so values our rights come from God not from government that the individual is the captain of the self the individual is sahrvin sovereign we were citizens not subjects Rousseau believes that the group is more important than the individual that our rights come from the group he believes that civilization is corrupt it reads that property is corrupt believes that the first person who put a fence around a piece of property was the author of evil in the modern world and these are the two different things so romanticism is basically part of my argument is that romanticism never went away we call it different things but it's still all around us because I think that romanticism is rebellion against the Enlightenment romanticism is mysticism romanticism is this idea that that the man keeps us boxed in romanticism is the theme of about every one in three Hollywood movies you know from the matrix you know poor neo he's a little you know cubicle worker and his veal pen until he realizes that know that he is actually the source of all meaning and you can change or then you can go down through the list I've been doing this for a while now romanticism suffuses our culture because what it does is it says the individuals that that my inner light my air truth is more important than objective facts objective rules in all the rest and that I want to be organic and holistic and bound people and all that it's a rejection of science and his reason Marx was a fundamentally romantic guy he wanted to write operas and poetry he believed at the end times and Marx's prophecy is that we're all going to basically go back to the tribal state of nature like Rousseau wanted where we each live you know free and unbound by societal norms and markets and all the rest so where am I going with this well one way to think about it is corruption normally when we talk about corruption we think of graft bribes and all that kind of thing right that's part of corruption but my argument is a little deeper than that corruption if you actually look at the word it means rot corrupted flesh beautification right it is deeply bound up in notions of entropy ashes to ashes dust to dust decay the idea that rust never sleeps right and what it is is this natural corruption is natural things fall apart that's the second law of thermodynamics says and so in our society when we lose faith and confidence in this amazing miracle that happened only once this lock in revolution we fall back on human nature right we fall back on what are our neuro you know neurological sweet-tooth tells us which is that we should be in tribes which is that we should band up we should identify ourselves by ethnicity by race by some sort of collective that's what identity politics is so black lives matter is that's what all of these various groups on the left and now increasingly on the right are into is this sort of new tribalism that we're seeing you know the Roman poet Horace said that you can chase human that even chase nature out with a pitchfork but it'll always come rushing back in and so if capitalism liberal democracy is dying it's dying because we are desperate to go back to a state of nature and reject this miracle that we were given and go back to this sort of understanding that predates the Enlightenment so I'm going to conclude with you know I know I've kept you here and I'm starting to sweat like a fat man and all-you-can-eat pasta bar so as as Henry the eighth's said to each of his wives I won't keep you much longer as a matter of politics and political history 1917 matters less today than it did in 1989 but in the broader sense it's as relevant as it ever was because this day this desire to reject the Lockean revolution to rejoin the tribes planet is hardwired into us and 1917 shows us where it can lead in other words this is an eternal struggle and this is why you whether you call yourself a libertarian or whether you call yourself a conservative or whether you call yourself simply a patriot who actually believes in West's and American civilization it's why you should call yourself also a happy warrior I often tell people particularly during the 2016 primaries cheer up for the end is near but what I really mean by that is that the end is always near Hana Arendt he's one of my favorite intellectuals she has his great line where she says every generation Western civilization is invaded by barbarians we call them children and what she means by that is that literally babies are barbarians the core inside of conservatism is that human nature has no history that these kids who come into us every single one of you every single human that was born right enters this world naked penniless and ignorant and what civilization they grow up and depends entirely on what civilization we program into them that's the verb at the heart of civilization to civilize to turn into a non barbarian and that's why families matters so much just once you lose the family you lose the engine that sustains the miracle that was launched launched 300 years ago Ronald Reagan famously said I don't know who's famous oz poking or that's famous but Reagan says freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction we didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream it must be fought for protected and handed on for them to do the same and that's the point people asks all the time why is there poverty you have to be too stupid to be a spellchecker at an M&M factory to ask why is there poverty we know why is poverty poverty is natural the only interesting question is why is there wealth and there's only one answer this amazing thing that we stumbled into by accident that we should show some gratitude for we don't teach gratitude in this country anymore we don't teach gratitude in the civilization than anymore the opposite of gratitude is resentment we teach a lot of that and resentment comes from a notion of entitlement if I tell you you're owed the world and then you don't deliver you're gonna be pissed off if we tell you you're owed a chance to make something out of your life in your own individual pursuit of happiness it encourages someone to have a heroic ahelp look on life and to be grateful for what they have but we don't teach gratitude conservatism to my mind so fundamentally is gratitude so be happy warriors because this is a good and normal fight it's really the only great and noble fight and even if you get down from time to time as I sometimes do you should at least remember that there's nothing that pisses off the left more than a conservative who's enjoying himself and there's something to be said for that so with that thank you all very much I believe we're going to do Q&A so now we're gonna go to Q&A I'm gonna take my jacket off sure I'm not I'm happy to stay as long as you need me to there's some questions about a certain television networks that rhymes with BOTS Muse that I may not be able to tell you as much as you'd like to hear but other than that glad – yes so I think that's fair what I mean by accident is that it was unintended that it took look I mean there's an enormous like we can by all means we can start this with Christianity which begins with this sort of which was the first universal religion that separated the secular world from the metaphysical world in a profound way that created this sort of social space for freedom to nurture and for reason to give birth to I believe it I agree with you entirely that we are indebted to the Greeks victory has many fathers but at the same time if you go through the checklist of what people always think where people think capitalism and free markets come from almost every single thing on the list existed somewhere at some time prior than the 1700s right taxation property rights limited government you can you can go down all of these lists and they all exist in these places and capitalism either catches on or we call capitalism catches on and the Republic of Venice very briefly but then it becomes corrupted and falls away so I agree with you that there are all sorts of precursors to all of this but I'm very much on Deuter McCluskey's I you know position on this that basically what happened was you had this fundamental transformation of ideas that said that the individual person was of value right which he don't get a lot of an Aristotle you get a lot of stuff in Aristotle about how people are born by slaves by their nature and all the rest and it basically it was what she calls the boudoir virtues the idea that the individual working in that that may accrue accruing wealth creating wealth was of value the church which I'm a huge fan of the Catholic Church and I think is responsible for big chunks of Western civilization did not get its mind right on the importance of creating wealth for quite a while and so what she argues in which I agree with is there was this flip of a switch in the way we talked about things and the way we understood things and ideas ideas drive prosperity more than anything else the problem is anything that you can create with ideas you can destroy with ideas and we are at this moment in civilization and I would argue it's easy chain resentiment but that's a different argument we're at war with the idea that we should be grateful for what we have the history that most universities teach fortunately not here is the Howard Zinn version of history where it's just one string of victims after another and they're the only heroes and anybody who was a hero is actually a villain and you can't sustain a civilization for very long if the people who created the civilization are only taught as oppressors racists and villains and what is required is a reaccept insist but an appreciation of our history an appreciation of what it's given us if you don't have gratitude for what we have you're not going to protect and defend it that's my [Applause] discussion for another time well thank you very much right so first of all thank you again for that to briefly stated are we all doomed and or where is there cause for hope and as someone who spent a big chunk of the last 18 months searching Amazon for deals on hemlock like you know and I'm not just some of politics I'm being audited by the IRS as he referenced I spilled coffee on my computer and lost for at least a while big chunks of it's been a been a bad year I basically consider hope just to be the brief pause between punches to the groin but but no more seriously you know first lot TS Eliot was right and he said there is no such thing as a truly lost cause because there's no such thing as a truly one cause as long as people are willing to be in the fight it's not over we are always going to be outnumbered because to think about politics seriously to realize that politics and civilization take work rather entitlement is always going to be an unpopular position because people always would prefer to have stuff given to them than to work for it at the same time as Edmund Burke would say example was the school of mankind and he will learn at no other and what he meant by that is sometimes you have to show people things you can't just tell them I thought Edie Koch was the mayor of New York for two terms and he was he lost his bid for a third term set of better he was asked if he's ever gonna run again and he said no the people of New York fired me and now they must be punished and and so we've had this enormous demonstration fact and at the end of the day as someone who actually believed you know as the courage or the fool hardiness to actually believe the things I say I believe since I know all these other approaches in my heart don't work we may have to stumble around for a while trying all these other things before we get back on track I should also say this is one of my favorite lines comes from Irving Kristol when he was watching the Clarence Thomas hearings with Judge Bork at AEI judge Bork at one point turned off the TV and discussed and said it's the end of Western civilization and Irving took a long drag on his cigarette and said of course it's the end of Western civilization but that doesn't mean one can't live well so there's always that yes sir you sound like my wife [Applause] well first of all I find that Scotch helps well I agree it's hard at times and it's been hard in this last year and and there are forces on the right these days that don't make it any easier for me or someone with my views I mean one of the most disappointing things in the last 18 months was to discover how many people longtime fans of mine were disappointed in to me for not living down to their expectations and there was a sort of assume that I was just gonna become a you know Republican rah-rah hack once they wanted me to and I wasn't gonna do that and in terms of the the larger point it's very similar the other gentleman's question you know first of all the fight for liberty begins in your own backyard right and the vast vast majority of important things in our life have still have very little to do with government and you know one of those I cannot stand is when you hear people say we have to dedicate ourselves to a cause larger than ourselves and invariably what people mean by that is dedicate ourselves to some government program some you know pay volunteer program which I use this thought was called a good job and because in our own private lives or everybody is dedicated to a cause larger than themselves your families are cause larger than yourself you jobs your friends your churches or synagogues you know sports teams these are all causes larger than itself these are all things that you'll be willing to make sacrifices for and that's where a lot of the really important work takes place how you maintain a good spirit I will admit you have to be somewhat self selected for this you have to like fighting I like fighting I would stop doing this and go back to my original plan of being a comic-book writer and science fiction author if I didn't like the fight I enjoy it and it doesn't mean there every day I enjoy it but you know sometimes it it's it's it's brutal dealing with people who are you know either profoundly dumb or family dishonest but for the most part I like to mix it up if you don't like to mix it up that's okay do the important stuff in your own community do the important stuff in your own life you are doing an enormous service to the country if you are actually just leaving an honest and dignified life and you're modeling good behavior for your children and your neighbors and you're helping people be better people there are only five six things this is social science this isn't like me making it up that leads to human happiness it's a faith family community which includes like friendship oh it jeans because some people are just born miserable bastards and then the last one is earned success and earned success isn't about money earned success is about feeling value earned success is about feeling like you've made a meaningful contribution in the world stay-at-home moms who raise kids have earned success soccer coaches have earned success priests have earned city's not necessary rich people but they feel like they've made a significant contribution to the world the social science on this is settled you can give people money and increase their net worth but not their self-worth and if you can help people if you can make a difference in actual people's lives that's great and if you can help sort of sell Liberty door-to-door and what Liberty counts on which is that sense of self-reliance and and and rightly ordered life that's great too and send the check to some politician or send a check to Grove City or volunteer for some organization in your free time but you don't have to be glued like some monkey in a cocaine study to Fox News all day long screaming about something right there are other things in your life you can do [Applause] okay just very quickly if I don't know much more time they're gonna give us as you could please make all your statements in the form of a question it would be helpful so I mean I think that's largely right the romantic ideal is this one that somehow everything was better off before Western civilization's right man is born free but everywhere is unchanged as for so put it if you talk to environmentalists you talk to feminists you talk to all sorts of gifts and isms across the spectrum now I got all these fingers sniffing pinheads and their parents basements call themselves it all right who are harkening back to this great Nordic utopia of about 1100 as their ideal past I don't think though necessarily I don't think Berman is necessarily right that it has to be backward looking it can also be forward looking you know the history of the left is largely a history of utopian movements Eric Voegelin was one of my big Ellen is one of my favorite philosophers even though he never pronounce his last name correctly or at least according to somebody in the room it always happens he famously said you know that Nazism was a progressive totalitarian religion essentially so was communism American progresses the Soviet communists they all promised that they were going to create a heaven on earth and so it was a backwards looking thing in this imagination that we once lived in perfect harmony in the state of nature but they also said it was in front of you and what per gallon said is that this is an attempt to image the eschaton which for those who don't know was also one of Bill Buckley's campaign slogans when you ran for mayor you know in 1965 so don't imminent eyes the eschaton it's shocking he lost but what a minute eyes the eschaton means means to make what is reserved for the hereafter and bring it about in the here and now to make the perfect world on this life when in proper Christian doctrine the perfect world is reserved the next life is the eternal reward that comes later in any attempt to take that notion which is very much like the microcosm notion the tribal notion and impose it on this life inherently leads to tyranny and oppression because you cannot take as Kant would put it the Crooked Timber of humanity and make it straight you cannot fit it to some abstract ideology of the perfect world and whether you want to find succor or psychological or historical proof for your conception of utopia from the ancient past or the imagined past because we never lived in a beautiful state of nature we spent most of our time hitting each other with rocks or if you think it's somewhere in the future it's still the same impulse utopia is Aniela jism created by Thomas Moore that means literally no place means it can't exists he contrasted that with utopia II you topia which means the good place which means a good society not a perfect society a good society my argument is that America still fundamentally is a good society and we should have gratitude for a good society because one of the great things about good societies as opposed to perfect anxieties it's that good good societies have this thing called existence which is like really useful you can get great pizza and a good society you can't find it in a perfect society because they don't exist yes he seemed to enjoy himself but he made a lot of enemies so I agree with almost all that I think the treatment of Bush was part of it to be sure I would actually argue that the thing that caused the psychic break on the right was the response to the tea parties the tea parties were you know individual cranks and weirdos and guys and tri-corner hats notwithstanding Tea Party response to Obamacare and their stimulus was exactly the response you would want from a healthy society we're gonna live within our means we're gonna pay our debts we're gonna get back to limited government and the Constitution back to basics there wasn't really for the vast center core of it wasn't an ounce of racism to it and nonetheless the response from the antibodies of the left parasite state were racist bigots Nazism is back right these guys who wanted to sort of get back to limited government were of course synonymous with people who wanted to put people in camps and I think for a lot of people I spoke got a lot of Tea Party rallies I like the Tea Party's they got hijacked a bit by a lot of grifters and scam artists and to use a terms and social science jackasses but I really like the two parties and but you go around you tell these people you're a racist you don't represent the future you don't represent real America your anachronism bigots you don't even you're too stupid even understand why you're bigots you know we went from under george w bush descent was the highest form of patriotism to descending the lowest form of racism in a heartbeat once obama got elected and I think this bred an enormous amount of cynicism and resentment a lot on a lot of good and decent Patriots who had this sort of attitude this idea about America and they said well that argument didn't work so maybe we should go to this other argument where it's just you know Mogga and all this kind of stuff and I don't blame them further their bitterness but I think it's a real problem I also think look it is simply a fact but I've been involved in conservatism in one way or another a really long time I don't I know I don't look that old but I met Pat Buchanan at my bris you know I've been in the mix for a long time conservatism is in real trouble and part of it is yes we're getting attached to personalities which is nuts you know bill rusher who was the longtime publisher of National Review always used to tell the new hires you know the kids he would say look politicians will always disappoint you and it wasn't because he was saying politicians are bad people right what he was saying was that the incentive structure for politicians is such that their first priority is to win elections and be popular right the first priorities of you know twenty four year old kids at national review is to be as pure principled conservative as as conceivably possible and politicians are always going to fall short of that mark and but instead we sort of bought into a lot of this culture of personality stuff but we also got here in part one of the reasons why I think Donald Trump won was that we've been going off the rails for why you have for a long time it was like the Republican primaries were a c-span reenactment of Spartacus where every single candidate would get up and say oh I'm Ronald Reagan no I am Ronald Reagan right and part of the problem was that you know look I like Ted Cruz you know I know Ted Cruz I like a lot of those guys I dislike quite a few of them too but we don't have to get a mint part of the problem with conservatism faces we are victims of our own success we've gotten to a point as I think I alluded to earlier where a lot of people particularly a little younger than me could make a pretty nice living only talking to audiences that already agreed with them and when you do that you stop talking about you stop politics politics go back to Aristotle it's about persuasion it's about convincing people who are in a different coalition that their interests are better reflected in your coalition than the one they're currently in and you try to win them over to your side right if you're only talking to audiences that already agree with you it becomes purely about who's the purist who is the most committed to these principles right and you would get this stuff that was so committed to the principles and I love the principle my life is dedicated to these principles but people these politicians that's so dedicated the principles they lost sight of where the voters actually were and the voters were getting sick of hearing the same canned BS and then along comes Donald Trump who you know say this for him did not sound like he was you know honed and practiced for in front of a focus group and he comes along I used to during the primaries or compare him to Godzilla and what I mean by that is like if you're a students of the gun Zilla hmm you know that almost every Godzilla movie the Japanese army tries to lure Godzilla into biting the electrical cables right and goes over and he comes in and he leans over and he bites the electrical cables and it turns out it makes him stronger and so Trump day after day would bite the electrical cables and say stuff that was supposed to destroy his career and the fact that he didn't give a rat's ass it made him stronger and the only reason we got into this position is their only reason that was possible was because of the disconnect between the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party had been so disconnected from from where the base really was and I'm not letting the basically lovable hokey there's a lot of cult of personality and celebrity nonsense in there too and if you actually bought everything that Donald Trump promised you know let's talk about his first hundred days if you want but how everything was gonna be so easy and we're all gonna have so much winning we couldn't see if I you know as far as the eye can see I'm waiting for that payoff but I don't want to blame the voters entirely because you know you the voters are the voters if you lose the voters it's the leadership fault at the end of the day let me stop okay this is the last one I hope it's fantastic if you don't want me to take a bath with a toaster I basically have to say yes but we've got real serious problems and I've been trying to say that all I mean I mean the working title the book I'm working on is the suicide of the West it's not like a hallmark movie special kind of thing and so to the extent I can touch on stuff that I haven't already said on this topic I agree we have huge problems I agree that it is it is a mess but herb Stein a great economist he had what he formulated what was called Stein's law and Stein's law held that which cannot go on forever must eventually stop and which it's amazing how that sort of insight shock some people but it happens to be true and I part of the mess that we're in and this is what I'm getting it when I talk about tribalism is that the polarization is at a point where we're basically watching politics like it's a movie we decide who the hero is we decide that the villains are anything that's good for our hero we think is good anything that is bad for the villains we think is bad and that's no way to run a democracy now I have like real solutions for how to do that you know my personal favorite is is federalism as to shove as much of this stuff down from the most local level possible you know take the VA we have an obligation to do right by veterans right that is absolutely true the government has an obligation to buy fighter jets but the government doesn't build fighter jets we hire people who know how to build fire jet fighter jets we don't have to have the government running Veterans Hospitals we could give veterans an incredibly generous voucher and say go you know here's a credit card knock yourself out go do what you want or you could give back the Veterans Administration to States so you push it down right and the point about that is that the more you push things down to the most local level possible the more you feel like the system isn't being run without any say-so by you right in Grove City PA and you sound at least a little silly if you talk about the powers that be because you actually probably know the powers that be you probably saw them at the supermarket a Ted you know I mean it's not and and one of the great things about pushing things down to the most local level possible is that first of all right when I do this for college students all the time federalism by which I mean subsidiary pushing things now it's almost local democratic level possible is the single best system ever conceived of for maximizing human happiness they said let's the most people live as a matter of math let's the most people live the way they want to live if you know pure democracy is simply the doctrine that says fifteen fifty one percent of the people get to pee in the cornflakes of forty nine percent of the people air Dewan and turkey just one probably stole that just won a referendum with 51 percent of the vote and he elected himself dictator but if you push these things down most local level possible you let people live the way they want to live that means that in San Francisco if they want to put it in the city Constitution that you have to let your freak flag fly fine if they put it in some town in South Carolina that you can't buy booze on the Sunday or there's no public hand-holding or you can't dance who gives a rat's ass let people live the way they want to live and the beautiful thing is if you push this down to the most local level possible the winners have to look the losers in the eye the next day it imposes a certain amount of humility on everybody because you're actually screwing with how your neighbors want to live and instead what we do is we get these coalition's of National coalition's well one group just has this will to power to destroy conservatives or traditionalists and you know this other group that says you know the left is crazy and they have to be extirpated from every public institution and that's no way to run things we're living in an age of my favorite New Yorker cartoon which my wife got framed blown up and framed for me few years ago has a dog in a cat I'm sorry has two dogs in suits drinking martinis at a bar in New York and one dog says for the other dog it's not good enough that dogs succeed cats must also fail and we live in a moment where everybody takes the position that cats must also fail right as this hammer and tongs approach to things and if you could push these things down to most local level possible where you actually know the cat's where they're your friends they're your kids play at their house right it doesn't mean politics won't be ugly but at least you won't feel like the system is ruling things for you and if we could push as much of the stuff down to the local level possible it leaves the federal government to do the few things that it's actually supposed to do you know I mean the founders have that phrase in essentials unity and everything else freedom right there are a few simple things that the federal government supposed to do supposed to have a military supposed to protect the borders supposed to have a currency I'm kind of running out but there are you know there are they I I'm a radical libertarian at the federal level I'm sort of a conservative traditionalist at the state level and I'm a glassy-eyed communitarian at the local level if you want to live weird be weird and this is one of things I've been arguing about to my conservative friends look I think the left is making fools of themselves about Trump I have criticism the Trump I've been vocal about the criticisms I'm not gonna lie for him because I don't work for the friggin RNC but the left's response the New York Times response is Donald Trump put salt on his french fries Hitler put salt on his french fries I mean it's it's nuts they have to take everything to 11 all right I mean like the Sean Spicer thing when he said the stupid stuff about the Holocaust centers which sounds like the grimmest spin-off from Home Depot ever you know he's talking about how Hitler didn't kill anybody with gas you know and you just imagine that little tiny Sean Spicer in his brains gonna be stopped but so I mean I I make fun of the guy I said on Twitter that the proof that we don't have we won't have time travel in our lifetime is because future Sean Spicer didn't show up in the briefing room and tackle you know current Sean Spicer but the the left the left wants to say that this was not only stupid but manifestly evil and deliberate Holocaust denial on anti-semitism and all stuff and it's that mindset which assert makes me feel like oh this is what we can't have nice things I mean I just I just want to make fun of the guy for like five minutes and then we can move on but they want to say that everything is proof of maximum evil it's like what they used to say about george w bush but you know how he was simultaneously a moron and the architect of the most elaborate and brilliant conspiracy in the history of mankind you know pick a lane but anyway i'm not close with this we have this incredible opportunity right we have this amazing opportunity where look i make a living drinking liberal tears out of bowls yeah I don't mind rubbing things in but I'd rather forego that satisfaction and get some buy-in from them right you go to call you chuck the left-wing college kids who are really kind of all of a sudden into this federalism idea right I mean California you got a secession movement you know under Obama talk about the 9th or 10th amendment was proof that you were a you know Timothy McVeigh but all of a sudden they're talking about you know maybe we don't have to follow Washington's lead and you get a lot of these sort of you know hipster doofuses who want to have like unpasteurized cheese and weird beer and all this kind of stuff and you talk to them and you say well look what does the FDA have to do with any of that why do you have to go to Washington to get permission for that don't you you know think that you can trust your own judgment or at least local regulators who know this stuff and they're open to it in a way that they didn't used to be and one of the things I would love to do is get more of the left not the democratic party apparatus because they're they're so corrupted and vested in a sort of bureaucracy stuff they're sort of administrative state stuff but the actual normal sort of you know weird hipsters who walk around and ill-fitting spam t-shirts you talk to them they say hey look we can meet you know you think he's evil fine you know we didn't like Barack Obama fine let's put more give you more power in your own community rather than looking to Washington and I think that would do an enormous amount to help the country it would bleed some of the poison out of Washington out of politics because you're supposed to care first and foremost but the politics in your own community not some that abstraction but some national community you don't live in America you live in the town or city or community that you actually physically live in and the arguments about what America should do should be reduced to the singular important things that only the federal government can do and everybody else should duke it out at the local level and if we can get by and for that that would be great and it would help us with the fight for liberty beginning in our own backyard so anyway thank you all very much and that's the complete opposite of communism and socialism right and with a statement on localism and subsidiarity i'm not going to try to add a thing to that so that that's it for tonight we have we have some cookies and drinks outside and we also have Jonah's book and other books for sale out there and which I would be happy to sign or whatever whatever whatever you'd like to purchase so thank you all so much and we'll see you tomorrow morning [Applause]

10 thoughts on “Jonah Goldberg – Socialism, Communism and Liberal Fascism

  • If you think about it… The right wing is just only one point in the entire one dimensional political spectrum… the individual… every other institution that instills power upon him (the state, the church, the schools, and even family itself) may be considered a leftist institution

  • "The advice nearest my heart and deepest in my conviction is that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated. Let the open enemy to it be regarded as a Pandora with her box opened; and the disguised one, as the Serpent creeping with his deadly wiles into Paradise." JAMES MADISON 1834
    "Verbis legis tenaciter inhaerendum"

  • Democracy is mob rule whether federal or local. Corruption happens at the local level. Freedom is voted away from individuals at the local level. It is NOT better to have democracy at the local level. Democracy is a bad idea promulgated by JG. We have natural rights that cannot be taken away from us. And I see local politicians and voters take my property rights year after year.

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