January 17, 2008

The Song of Jonah, or, Merit Meets Its Match

You know what glib means. Unquestionably you've been subjected to its uses.

If Jonah Goldberg is a glibertarian, if William Kristol or John Podhoretz can be justly called that, then glibertarians include those who can and do in practice willingly talk just the sort of talk and walk just the sort of walk in public that libertarians recommend we all do for our own good, and make out just fine doing so, if libertarianism can be reduced to the rewarding politics of mining proven reserves of self-interest for a living.

With all of libertarianism's considerable nonsense about the free agency of the political monad of the individual filling their sails, glibertarians, to suit their purposes, uniformly support the selective dismantling of the state on the one hand and, at the same time, while presumably holding the state at an ironic distance with the other hand, but as long as they have the ear of who's in charge of it, publicly encourage the state's most autocratic uses as well. What the hell, it's a career. Say what works and move on up the ladder of success.

Jonah Goldberg has written a much-anticipated book called Liberal Fascism. It was already the fabled thing when first announced what seems like years ago, when the wags first lined up to bray about what turned out to be its long delayed arrival, and much hilarity ensued in the intervening months before publication as various sources took their turns swatting at the inviting piñata of Goldberg's conceit.

All during Liberal Fascism's gestation, Goldberg promised he was really going to bear down this time, to come up with a good one, to redeem in effect the glib in glibertarian by some studious research and solid argument.

Such a promise was never within his power to keep, apparently. Instead, the book is a standing appointment with all that is glib in the rhetoric of glibertarianism, the squaring of the Liberal Fascist circle in the Hitler Smiley Face on its cover the cleverest bit of glib in fact, the rest of it falling to the settled standard of Goldbergian glib familiar from his previously expressed views. I say that with confidence, having never read the book, but merely as a result of having witnessed Goldberg now loosed on the book tour supporting the thing, as in the edited interview with John Stewart found here.

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