tv Interview with Jonah Goldberg Suicide of the West CSPAN November 17, 2018 4:49pm-5:07pm EST
goldberg. his recent book is suicide of the west. we'll get to the subtitle in just a minute. mr. goldberg, is there a line that you can draw between your three books, liberal fascism, and now suicide of the west? >> yes. one, the most obvious is they all took an enormous amount of work by jonah goldberg. i have to tell people that this book is a bit of a prequel to liberal fascism. if i had it all to do over again there are parts of the liberal fascism i would have written differently. it is amazing how it's become kind of a totem for people to hate me on the left or to like it on the right and all of that kind of stuff. but i have changed some of my views about how intellectual history works. in liberal fascism there is a very common tendency that is true of lots of people. on the left and the right, to
say they said x in the philosopher b says 500 years later they must've been influenced by philosopher a. and i know some of the stuff goes on but the intellectual connecting of the dots you know, blaming everything on russo. i do not believe in it as much anymore. i think it is important and interesting and illuminating but one of the things i have come around to is that i'm a much bigger believer and how our brains sometimes guide the ideas that we grab hold of. and that tribalism is this thing that is hardwired into us. can manifest itself in different ways and different places. and so, that sense of want to be part of a group that whether you call it socialism or fascism or communism or nazis or any of these kind of things, i think the instinct is more
important than i realized it is not just ideas that drive everything. it is the receptivity of our own brains. the ideas that are really important, there's a lot of overlap and the political philosophy stuff in all three books. the government, conservative, all that kind of thing. the evolution in how i view these things is pretty marked. i don't think that is, it is someplace where my has a lot these days. >> if you were to rewrite the liberal fascism would be a completely different book? different conclusions? >> no, i think that the first four or five chapters, maybe they would been a source i would or wouldn't have used but the overarching historical argument that i make and how we frame it, and perfectly happy to defend. but you know, one of the things i wanted to do with that book, was to get people to stop using the word fascist so much. and estella made the habit bipartisan.
and so, there are some of the sort of partisan stuff in the second half of the book that i would rethink. another one of the unintended consequences is that even i don't like -- who was this political agitator and activist, that had become a demon head on the right in the last 10 years. in part because of me. because i sort of helped introduce him out there. was really just made me on the right is why so many people on the right says we have to be like him my whole argument was that this is a bad guy and his arguments about the end justified the means are the bad thing. and a lot of people in the right these days think know the only way to beat that is to be one. and i hate that kind of thinking. i'll hate that kind of, if you cannot beat them, join them.
fight fire with fire. it has diffused so much of what we call the right these days are just sort of the populist nationalist crowd which i'm not part of. >> we talk about tribalism and you look at yourself, what tribes do you belong to? >> part of my argument is that one of the things that makes liberal democratic capitalism work is, you want to have a portfolio of allegiances. two different institutions, different identities, you want to wear different hats. i am against what they called the clean and well lit prison of a single idea. and so what you want, what makes that possible is not just a division of labor in terms of our jobs, but division of labor in terms of our minds. that part of our day we can be religious, part of our day we can define ourselves as a father or mother or whatever. or a sports fan. and that allows us to get outside of these single lanes of identity. and so i belong to a lot of different tribes. my family, ultimate first platoon, first allegiance but
there's also places like national review, american enterprise institute, my friends. you can go down to judaism to some extent although my very bad jew. you can go down a long list of different identities and i think that they are mostly simpatico with more symbiotic with each other but also all different. and what you don't want to do is get to the place where the demands of your single tribe override all other considerations. right? well what if my tribe is america, get one of -- one reason i don't like populace among electrolyte is basically the logic of the mob. it says we are all in it together, what we believe in is correct. one of the things that we've seen in the last couple of years on the right is that attitude from some conservative activists and intellectuals, i'm borrowing from a french intellectual, i can't member his name. he said, the people have chosen and i must go with them for i
am their leader. there is an enormous amount of get on board the train, get with the program, i used to say for 10 years the single most thing said on the campus every single day was if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem. that is now i bipartisan attitude. and big chunks of the country and i don't like that stuff. >> where's the overlap between tribalism, nationalism and populism? >> and one says they are all forms of tribalism, right? there is this thing that, the evolutionary psychologist, john to-- rights but we are born with the wiring this is we need to be part of a group, to protect our collective interest. this is part of our wiring. the founding fathers called this faction.
adam smith in the wealth of nations says, seldom will you get treatment of the same trade or business meeting where the conversation will not quickly turn to a conspiracy against the public good. what he meant by that is that people tend to form groups. prison gangs are perfect example of self forming coalition. and so tribalism which has become kind of a clichc today, i really think is getting at that natural human tendency. that manifest itself in different ways. so you know, one way to think about it is communism was tribalism for one class. fascism was tribalism for one nation. so, nazi-ism was tribalism for one race. there is a thing in our brain that clicks on that says we want to be part of our group and see the other as a danger. the great thing about liberal democratic capitalism, about the market, is it helps us learn how to deal with strangers.
we evolve for hundreds of thousands of years with some serious programming that says, do not trust strangers. there is a wonderful book by a guy from yale, paul bloom. where he surveys the research done about the programming that babies are inherited with. and don't worry, no babies were harmed in the conduct of those experiments. but babies are born with accents. french babies have a french accent. german babies heavy german accent. babies are born to bond very quickly with the appearance of their parents and then instinctively just trust people who sound different or look different. so when people say had to be taught to hate, they are completely wrong. what people need to be taught is not to hate. and because we are in the evolutionary environment which darwin talks about at great length, there is an enormous evolutionary advantage to being cooperative. the tribe that works together and cooperates will pass on his genes while the one that is full of rugged individualists
that read -- will be wiped out. the cause of the programming, there are certain political ideologies that can trick us. into being part of this cult of unity. and ben sass is very good in his book about that. the unity is not the problem. unity is a good thing. tribalism is a good thing. it is finding healthy attachments and outlets for it. family, friends, local communities. institutions close to home, those are sports teams, those are good things. but politics cannot serve that very well on a national level without becoming distorting and tribal. and that is a problem. >> so identity politics is the fourth mentioned in your subtitle. as just another word for these three things? >> what they all are is, they are important different manifestations of this underlying phenomenon.
or worthy or worse than other people one of the greatest things of the founding fathers was get rid of titles of nobility so the idea inherent in the founding a fully realized that you should judge people on their own individual merits and take people as you found them. the problem with identity politics that is ancient and reactionary going back to the idea that there are different kinds of people judge differently not for their own merits but the circumstances of birth or circumstances. . >> so why does it seem that nationalism or tribal identity? if that is so exaggerated or
pronounced more than a few years ago quick. >> it definitely is more pronounced today. i think that one of the most important drivers is the breakdown of all the institutions of civil society at the local level or where we live in this world we are wired to want to belong to a group and have a meeting and sense of belonging and those is to shins are healthy and productive with local religious organizations and when those start to break down we don't lose that instinct. we look elsewhere. and politics is increasingly selling the idea that government can give you that
it identity government is the one thing we all belong to were the first words the democratic national convention that's how we look at politics that there is my group and the other group that is demonizing. so you have a very high level how ford millions of americans because they hate republicans so you have this where your partisan affiliation tell about your identity if i asked if you are a republican or democrat have to ask follow-up question defined and if you are a liberal or can serve it if. - - conservative.
that politics is becoming a lifestyle and a lifestyle is becoming politicized because there are not better sources of meaning in our life. so with those that is one of the great ironies of the time the partisanship it hasn't been this bad since the 18 fifties because they can handle the politics all of the other institutions are politicized some jackass gets up that sounds like a political speech "the new york times" lobbies the readers of about a tax bill and the opinion shows at night are basically commercials for the
rnc msnbc is signaling to democrats in much the same way. these institutions become co-opted by the political process and because we only listen to media outlets we already agree with that demonization becomes self perpetuating but against the very way of life to destroy that is the part of the answer. >> suicide of the west. jonah goldberg's new book thank you for a few minutes here in miami. >> and now back to life coverage at the miami book festival this is the taping of a podcast you are listening to rebecca traister and celeste ng taping the podcast. live coverage on book tv.
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