Background: in the course of trying to boost what has been generally conceded to be a not-particularly-good Second Inaugural speech made by Barack Obama yesterday, Yglesias wrote:

Summing up the ideological brief, Obama even indulged in American liberalism's favorite ideological tic—the insistence that it's not an ideology at all, but simply a pragmatic response to changing circumstances.

Which, if you’ve read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, actually sounds very familiar. It is, in fact, at the core of the parallel he draws between how modern American liberalism sells itself and how fascist movements have sold themselves:

The unique threat of today’s left-wing political religions is precisely that they claim to be free from dogma. Instead, they profess to be champions of liberty and pragmatism, which in their view are self-evident goods. They eschew “ideological” concerns. Therefore they make it impossible to argue with their most basic ideas and exceedingly difficult to expose the totalitarian temptations residing in their hearts. They have a dogma, but they put it out of bounds.

Jonah later made this insight clearer in his later book The Tyranny of Cliches:

...liberals and other progressives hold it as a bedrock article of ideological faith that they are not ideological. In short: Pragmatism is the disguise progressive and other ideologues don when they want to demonize competing ideologies.

And that's all very interesting, because I believe that the consensus from the Left was that there were no insights to be gotten from Jonah Goldberg's work. From a representative Lefty review of Liberal Fascism:

But of course that just gets us back to the fact that there's no real coherent argument to be extracted here at all. Nor does there seem to have been any real intention of producing one. Rather, Adam "In Defense of Nepotism" Bellow's basic idea was, basically, let's slap a bunch of sh[*]t together that'll p[*]ss off liberals, generate buzz, and then maybe conservatives will buy the book. It's cynicism, pure and true, but it makes a reasonable amount of sense.

...said review written by, of course, Matthew Yglesias. I dunno: the guy must have read the book since he reviewed it*.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Of course I took a screenshot.

*Dirty little secret of this business: lots of people don't read a book before they review and/or interview for it. Favorably or unfavorably.