Fun fact: Jonah Goldberg likes to start every chapter with a quote or two. Well, when in Waldenbooks...
Part of his trick was being an absolutely terrible writer (a trick countless postmodern academics figured out an emulated). With considerable effort he could manage to be merely dry and boring. But his more substantial philosophical prose reads like a bunch of German words were dipped in maple syrup and dragged across a linty floor before being badly translated back into English by someone with a less firm grasp of idiom. - Jonah Goldberg, explaining why John Dewey is a conniving asshole
He [Marx] explains it here, but reading the passage will only give you a headache. - Jonah Goldberg, explaining why I won't understand the English translation of a passage by Karl Marx
Now when it comes to enlightenments I've long followed the rule of the dad in So I Married an Axe Murderer:  "If it's not Scottish, it's crap." By this I mean that a conservative in the Anglo-American tradition tends to revere folks like Adam Smith and John Locke and, of course, Edmund Burke (only one of who was in fact Scottish) while looking askance at the events on the continent because of the whole French Revolution, the birth of totalitarianism, the debut of socialism, the Terror, and all of that unpleasantness. - Jonah Goldberg, explaining
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down these commas!

By the way, if guessed how many pages into the chapter Goldberg would make his first reference to Nazis, you lost (sort of)! Better luck next chapter! [Spoiler alert: chapter three is only seven pages long, so be sure to choose a low number.]

Here's one last game. Can you guess what the following people have in common?
John Kenneth Galbraith
Napoleon Bonaparte
Adam Smith
John Locke
Edmund Burke
Jean-Baptiste Say
Antoine Louis Claude Destutt, comte de Tracy ("another guy with an absurdly French name")
Thomas Jefferson
John Adams
Historian [sic] John B. Thompson
William James
Charles S. Pierce
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Otto Von Bismarck
Bertrand Russell
Karl Marx
Hannah Arendt (I know, right?)
Richard Rorty ("one of the left's star philosophers", although PROTIP: if you have to point it out to readers, you've probably overstated things.)
George Carlin
Historian Eric Goldman (who really was historian, and not a sociologist, the latter being something completely different :cough: John B. Thompson :cough:)
Woodrow Wilson
Jane Addams (two!)
Walter Rauschenbusch ("the leading proselytizer of the progressive social gospel movement")
John Dewey
Franklin Roosevelt
General Hugh "Iron Pants" Johnson ("an ironic nickname when you consider what "Hugh Johnson" sounds like when you say it fast") (Mr. Gorbachev, what the fuck is an adverb?)
Benito Mussolini
Paul Krugman
Lawrence Summers
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon Johnson (also funny, because it ends in Johnson)
Jimmy Carter (who told the nation something or other "while wearing a fetching sweater." [Johnson. titter.])
Thomas Friedman
Harvard economist Ken Rogoff
Arthur Herman
Robert Higgs
Robert Barro
President Obama
Harvard's James Kloppenberg
Horace Kallen
Stuart Chase
Friedrich Hayek
John Maynard Keynes
Tiffany Miller Jones (three!)
Norman Thomas
Herbert Croly
Martin Perez
E. J. Dionne
Michael Tomasky
William Voegeli
Charles Beard
J. Allen Smith

If you surmised that these are all people whose names Goldberg drops during this twenty page chapter, congrats!



I'm not going to lie, and I'm not going to engage in hyperbole. This was possibly one of the worst chapters of any book I've ever read, and I've read The Fountainhead. I'm a something of a fan of history, scholarship, and what have you. I have B.A. in The History and Philosophy of Science. Also, I have a Ph.D. in whatever.

I've read a lot of history. I've read a lot of philosophy. I've found some of it quite good, in that it was entertaining and/or put forth a compelling argument. I thought some of it was bland. Some of it was garbage, in that it was a pointless recitation of information. Goldberg reminded me of the latter, only without all that pesky information. Even by the tepid standards of pseudo-intellectual garbage, Goldberg is a spectacular failure.

Goldberg is nothing if not that student who gets an F on his first term paper, only to whine to his professor that he totally copied down a lot of important names, and that college is a big waste of time, and also that his dad is totally going to call you and tell you why you should give him an A if you want to keep your job. Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. (Also: Chest!)

Mr. Goldberg: Do stick to your day job of yelling random insults at people in cars. It's not as glamorous as pretending to be an intellectual, but I hear the Tribune Company has deep pockets.

But I digress. Let me get to the content of chapter two. I'd hate to write another 800 words without saying anything of import. :cough:

Goldberg starts out with a five page explanation of how Napoleon was kind of an asshole. He doesn't actually say as much, but he implies it. Don't worry, he's saving up his boldness for later in the chapter.

The idea (as it were), is that Napoleon was the first person to make ideology a bad word. IIRC, Napoleon did so au francais, but whatever. Cognates exist and liberals love the French.

I guess this whole ideology thing has to do with the last chapter (IDEOLOGY). I'm not sure. Goldberg never really gets into that.

Anyhow, Goldberg's really hot about how Napoleon was a pragmatist, in the most philosophical sense of the word. If you haven't heard about pragmatism, don't worry, neither has Goldberg.

PROTIP! If you're going to talk shit about a school of philosophy, it is useful to begin by defining the philosophy in question. Failing to do so makes you look like an asshole. Also on the just sayin' trail: neither Napoleon or Marx were, AFAIK, pragmatists.

Liberals (by which Goldberg means the philosophers Karl Marx and William James) were big into pragmatism, which is pragmatic in that it insists that it's scientifically objective and that anyone who dares argue with it is a bigot or some such shit. That's totally what pragmatism is, totally what liberals (like Karl Marx) believe, and actually the bulk of the first half of this chapter.

The next section I SWEAR TO REAGAN I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP is about how liberals (like William James) are constantly using war analogies to make their point. War on poverty. War on drugs. War on terror. You get the idea. Without their war metaphors, liberals having nothing to back up their arguments.

Also, this is neat, liberals are war mongers, because Paul Krugman once claimed that World War II lifted us out of the Great Depression but that theory's totally been destroyed citation needed.

The remainder of the chapter is about John Dewey, and how all the liberals these days can't stop talking about him.

(Goldberg could have talked about how Tip O'Neill used to snort coke of Eugene Debs' corpse, but that wouldn't have been as effective an argument. First off, some of his readers might actually know who Debs was, and realize that maybe just maybe the whole Marxist-Socialist-Democrat false equivalency thing he's got going on is something of an overstatement. Second, Dewey was a philosopher, which allows Goldberg to pretend that even though liberals [you know, like Andrew Sullivan] claim to not be Reds, they're philosophically committed to the same ideals.)

If you're like me (FETCHING SWEATER), you're wondering how the hell Goldberg is going to tie all these ideas words together. Napoleon hates "ideologues." Marx is a stuck-up science worshiper. John Dewey, the socialist, provided the intellectual foundation of the democratic party.

"[John Dewey] never voted for FDR when Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party of America candidate [extraneous comma] was on the ballot."

That's some through the looking glass shit right there my friends.

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