Monday, December 31, 2007

Jay Fitzgerald hits the nail right on the head with regards to what's wrong with conservative journalism today:
Here's a dirty little secret about modern conservativism, as gleaned by yours truly while devouring National Review, American Spectator etc. during my brief hard-core conservative stint in the '80s: Many conservative pundits and intellectuals have an inferiority complex when it comes to arguing with liberals. They know that liberals have an all-encompassing view of the world that provides them with ready-made put downs (accusations of fascism, McCarthyism etc.) -- and for years that argumentative style infuriated conservatives to the point where the former publisher of National Review, William Rusher, wrote a book called 'How to Win Arguments.' For years, the book was heavily advertised in National Review -- along with countless articles dwelling on conservative frustrations with getting around the arguments of liberals and their allied lackeys in the media. That debate-club compulsion to win arguments became part of the modern conservative mindset -- with the ultimate debate-club tactic being to turn the tables on liberals, or 'to fight fire with fire,' as one conservative friend once put it to me.
As readers of this blog are aware (all three of them), I've long been a critic of the poor quality of conservative journalism when it comes to science. So Jay's take comes as no surprise. (But he puts it better than I did....)


Darwin said...

I think he's got a point about some of the wider problems with conservative journalism, though I've been impressed enough with a lot of the pieces I've ready by Goldberg that I'd want to read the book myself before holding it up as an example of the problem. I wouldn't find it unlikely that Goldberg's main thesis is not so much a "gotcha" as that modern American liberalism is more in danger of straying into the kind of complete state control that characterized Italian and Spanish fascism than American conservatism.

Since fascists and communists clashed in both places, there's a tendency to assume that fascism and communism are the two poles of the political spectrum -- while I think one could make a point that in a certain sense both these modern (or at least, mid-last century) movements were in fact variants of one end of the spectrum of possible forms of government, with limited constitutional (or traditional) governments at the other end of the spectrum.

In this sense I don't necessarily see it as simply "no, you're a fascist" to talk about "liberal fascism". However, I haven't read Goldberg's new book either.

John Farrell said...

Good point. I think Jonah took an awful lot of time to write this one (at least based on my fuzzy memory of his posts), which may hurt his sales and his reception. And that's unfortunate.

He would certainly have benefited from being ahead of Coulter et al.