One of the more striking aspects of Goldberg’s dishonesty is how he manipulates his definitions in self-serving fashion that lets him move the goalposts at will, as though we were playing Calvinball. John Cole calls this “the Goldberg Principle”: "You can prove any thesis to be true if you make up your own definitions of words." For instance, his operative definition of fascism is actually just the generic definition for totalitarianism, and it omits entirely the special characteristics that distinguish fascism from other forms of totalitarianism. One of these, for instance, is its overpowering, indeed dominant, antiliberalism – a fact that Goldberg conveniently omitted from throughout his entire 400 or so pages, and later dismissed by claiming that the “liberalism” it opposed was not modern liberalism, but classical liberalism (as though the two have no connection whatever).
Goldberg’s whole approach, for that matter, involves omitting contradictory factual information. His thesis begins with a real fact: fascism originally based its public appeal, like most right-wing populist movements, by claiming to represent a “neither left nor right” solution but a transcendent unifying force. As such, it often made socialist-sounding appeals in its rhetoric, particularly in its nascent stages. Goldberg explores this in depth by trotting out multiple examples of socialist-sounding rhetoric from fascists, as well as endorsements of fascism by gullible socialists. As Michael Tomasky noted in his scathing review for The New Republic:
Yet for all his chapter and verse on the proletarian rhetoric that Nazis employed, Goldberg somehow forgets to mention certain other salient matters, like the fact that within three months of taking power Hitler banned trade unions--and on the day after May Day, 1933. Their money was confiscated and their leaders imprisoned. And the trade unions were replaced with the Nazi "union" called the German Labor Front, which took away the right to strike. Hitler did many worse things, of course. I single out this act because it would hardly seem to be the edict of a "man of the left." And there exist about a million nearly epileptic quotes from Hitler and Goebbels and other Nazis expressing their luminous hatreds of liberalism and of communism, none of which seem to have found their way into the pages of Liberal Fascism.
Goldberg responded by arguing that the fascists were just foreclosing on their competition: “All that need be said is that if Hitler’s ban on independent trade unions disqualifies him as a leftist, then Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were not leftists either.” This is, in fact, the argument that Goldberg attempts to make in his book as well: That the fascists occupied the "political space" on the Left, and thus were simply out to compete against their fellow leftists.
But this is where Goldberg most deeply portrays a lack of respect for the historical material available to him, because any careful study of the actual details of how the fascists came to power in both Italy and Germany makes abundantly clear that they were occupying the available political space on the right -- and had charged hard in that direction from early on in their drive to power.
The above is from David Neiwert's article on History News Network. (Hat-tip to Chip Berlet.) There is intellectual dishonesty in Jonah Goldberg's notion of "liberal fascism." It's as viable within clear-headed discourse as "chocolate stove," "fringed fart," or "glass pants." It is, in fact, close unto an oxymoron, like "dead life." It becomes strongly viable only in discourse where participants accept a strange epistemology, a worldview that allows for a statement to be taken as fact merely based on its political convenience or dependent upon all evidence against the statement's validity to be left unaired or considered to be invalid.
It may well be an example of the notion of The Big Lie: a lie so brazenly told as to seem credible, especially if it is repeated often; it is a a proposition that recklessly defines or redefines terms--or doesn't define them clearly at all and allows an intended audience to fill in the gaps with prejudicial thinking--and is based not on honest or clear reasoning, but on loudness and some manner of deceit, usually in the form of selective-only evidence and sometimes utterly invented evidence. Yet, it can become accepted, taken as as more or less true, even in large segments of a population, just as are notions of global Jewish conspiracies in parts of the Islamic world today.