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RS Book Notes, Week #4 – Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of Liberal Fascism

Reading the Third Chapter of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism then posting our thoughts about it is our 4th week’s assignment in Red State’s Book Notes project.

Liberal Fascism

Chapter 3:

Though I’m an amateur student of history and have long considered Woodrow Wilson to be the worst President the U.S. has ever had (though the current resident of the White House might outdo him, and Jimmy Carter tried to) the presentation of material in Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of Liberal Fascism sent shivers down my spine. The realities of our history are quite different from the white-washed version taught in our schools and preached from the pulpits of the media.

This 42-page chapter opens with a four-page introduction in which a brief biography of Wilson and the nature of the ideas he held is presented. We’re also given a glimpse of what the rest of the chapter will document in detail, and the statement:

“…Woodrow Wilson was the twentieth century’s first fascist dictator.”

The main body of the chapter follows, and is divided into the following named sections:

  • The Idealism of Power Worship,
  • How It Happened Here, and
  • Wilson’s Fascist Police State.

Honestly, little that I read here was new to me (possibly because I skimmed this chapter when the book was first published?), but I can’t remember ever having seen it all laid out so vividly and documented so thoroughly.

Following the last named section, Goldberg gives us a six-paragraph summation of the points made in this chapter.

Most memorable in this summary is the statement regarding the intent of Woodrow Wilson and his fellow Progressives:

“Their chief desire was to impose a unifying, totalitarian moral order that regulated the individual inside his home and out.”

And the chapter’s final paragraph:

This is the elephant in the corner that the American left has never been able to admit, explain, or comprehend. Their inability and/or refusal to deal squarely with this fact has distorted our understanding of our politics, our history, and ourselves. Liberals keep saying “it can’t happen here” with a clever wink or an ironic smile to insinuate that the right is constantly plotting fascist schemes. Meanwhile, hiding in plain sight is this simple fact: it did happen here, and it might very well happen again. To see the threat, however, you must look over your left shoulder, not your right.

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