Libertarians and Jonah Goldberg
By Arnold Kling
Jonah argues that we have become belated converts to the Liberal Fascism thesis.
And Arnold Kling who said my book was in fact written by three people — “Goldberg the revisionist historian, Goldberg the outraged conservative child, and Goldberg the troll” [I can’t get a direct link but it’s findable over at TCS] — is now, as noted below, flirting with the idea that fascism lurks in what we’re seeing.
My review is here, and I stand by it. The review says,
Goldberg has written an important book, although there are a number of ways I would have liked to see it written differently.
I think the key issue in the contest between Progressive Corporatism and The Resistance might be summarized as this:
If you believe that politicians are about solving problems and need more power in order to do so, then you are going to side with Progressive Corporatism.
If you believe that politicians are about power and need problems as an excuse to get it, then you are going to side with The Resistance.
My skeptical view of political motives can be seen in another old essay of mine, Government and the Fear Factor. Jonah’s book certainly is on the side of The Resistance. I am pleased by the book’s success. His revisionist history fits the Resistance narrative, and that continues to appeal to me, but I also continue to have quibbles about style, tone, and–occasionally–substance.
Sometimes, we confuse an intellectual victory with a historical event. For example, people will say that the fall of the Soviet Union settled the socialist calculation debate. On closer examination, I do not think that is true. The Soviet Union did not rot because the leaders could not figure out the right shadow price of steel. It rotted because Communism replaces the incentive to produce with an incentive to free ride and an incentive to join the Party and get your share of the loot.
Similarly, Goldberg seems to want to say that the aggressively statist agenda of the Obama Administration vindicates his book. However, in my view, we started on this road under President Bush, and especially under Treasury Secretary Paulson. Recall that the Republican Presidential nominee suspended his campaign in order to come to Washington in support of the $700 billion down payment on progressive corporatism.
Yes, as of now there are more Republicans and conservatives claiming to be ready to stand with us in the barricades. But when we really needed them last September, they instead helped to pass the TARP. That makes me reluctant to stamp “vindicated” on my copy of LF.