To understand fascism in its full expression requires putting aside Stalin's misrepresentation of the term and also look beyond the Holocaust, and instead return to the period Goldberg terms the "fascist moment," roughly 1910-35. A statist ideology, fascism uses politics as the tool to transform society from atomized individuals into an organic whole. It does so by exalting the state over the individual, expert knowledge over democracy, enforced consensus over debate, and socialism over capitalism. It is totalitarian in Mussolini's original meaning of the term, of "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State." Fascism's message boils down to "Enough talk, more action!" Its lasting appeal is getting things done.
In contrast, conservatism calls for limited government, individualism, democratic debate, and capitalism. Its appeal is liberty and leaving citizens alone.
Goldberg's triumph is establishing the kinship between communism, fascism, and liberalism. All derive from the same tradition that goes back to the Jacobins of the French Revolution. His revised political spectrum would focus on the role of the state and go from libertarianism to conservatism to fascism in its many guises – American, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese, Cuban, and so on.
First, he offers a "secret history of the American left":
To sum up a near-century of history, if the American political system traditionally encouraged the pursuit of happiness, "more and more of us want to stop chasing it and have it delivered."
Second, Goldberg dissects American liberal programs – racial, economic, environmental, even the "cult of the organic" – and shows their affinities to those of Mussolini and Hitler.
If this summary sounds mind-numbingly implausible, read Liberal Fascism in full for its colorful quotes and convincing documentation. The author, hitherto known as a smart, sharp-elbowed polemicist, has proven himself a major political thinker.
Beyond offering a radically different way to understand modern politics, in which fascist is no more a slander than socialist, Goldberg's extraordinary book provides conservatives with the tools to reply to their liberal tormentors and eventually go on the offensive. If liberals can eternally raise the specter of Joseph McCarthy, conservatives can counter with that of Benito Mussolini.