Sunday, June 14, 2009

thoughts on voxiversity iii, session 1

Just took my first Voxiversity quiz on Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. (I didn't know about VI until it was already rolling and was too lazy to jump into VII in time to keep up, so VIII is my first.) Given that Vox is off the high end of the intellectual scale, I figured the quiz would be a killer, at a minimum all fill-in-the-blank. In other words, something that would kick the collective *** of students such as myself who aren't great at reading comprehension to begin with and didn't spend a lot of time studying up for this one.

Well, I was wrong. It was more like something out of college, a simple 10-question quiz to verify that one actually did read the assigned material. So I'm a bit surprised he didn't ratchet up the difficulty more...or maybe that's coming with later sections since this only covered the intro to the book. Time will tell.

As for the book itself, it's shaping up to be a good read so far. (For anyone curious as to the subject matter of the book, EW provided a lengthy review several months back.) Goldberg appears to be going beyond the typical noise level in political books, in which authors just pick a flaw of the other side and start blasting away and citing contemporary examples here and there. He's reaching back into history and providing a common thread for understanding both contemporary liberalism and its predecessors. I'm looking forward to getting into it more.

And from what I can tell, it's meticulously researched, as the large amount of footnotes attests to. Goldberg isn't just shooting from the hip or taking huge logical leaps where convenient to make his view of events come into focus. He did his homework.

But I can already agree with the Wapiti's review on one thing: his frequent breaks in the action to emphasize that he's not, in fact, haphazardly throwing the "fascist" or "Nazi" or "anti-Semite" or whatever labels around among his ideological opponents are getting a little tedious. That he's taking care to choose his terms accurately and precisely should be obvious to anyone reading the book. The types who would take undue offense to his writing and fire slanderous accusations back in response are the types that do not operate from a basis of logic and reason in the first place. So there's no point in trying to hold their hand throughout by giving them reminders based on argument. Jonah is working on a thinking level and that's not going to trickle down to someone reading and responding on a feeling level. So I hope he just gives that crap up after the Introduction, but I'm afraid he's not going to.

Some money quotes:

Today's liberal fascism eschews talk of Christianity for the most part, except to roll back its influence wherever it can (although a right-wing version often called compassionate conservativism has made inroads in the Republican Party).

Excellent. I was really hoping Goldberg wasn't going to weaken his case substantially by focusing only on the "left" while giving the "right" a pass on the errors of big government. But it looks like he's going to dole out truth to causes or figures regardless of their political stripes. The credibility of the book when up a bit when I read that statement.

...[I]t's worth recalling that the success of Nazism in Weimar Germany partially stemmed from the unwillingness of decent men to take it seriously.

Amen! Freedom-loving Americans take note. The erosion of liberty has been happening here for decades (since the Wilson regime, if Goldberg is to be believed, and methinks he ought to be) and it's about time more people started taking it seriously.


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