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HAWKINS: The 30 Best Quotes From Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg, Columnist
William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images
 

I’ve been a fan of Jonah Goldberg’s writing for many years. The man is an outstanding writer, arguably the best conservative columnist in the business and he’s produced some great books, most notably Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. The name most people associate with National Review has always been William F. Buckley, but he was a bit before my time and so when I think National Review, first and foremost, I think Jonah Goldberg. So for Jonah Goldberg to be leaving National Review is a little like Babe Ruth leaving the Yankees. Sure, they’ve still got some other great writers, but the best cleanup hitter in the game is going elsewhere.

 

In honor of his notable tenure at National Review, I wanted to highlight some of his best quotes; given that he’s one of the most quotable conservative writers out there, I probably could have made this list twice as long. Enjoy!

30) "If there is ever a fascist takeover in America, it will come not in the form of storm troopers kicking down doors but with lawyers and social workers saying, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'”

29) "There is no 'right side of history.' Nothing is foreordained."

28) "The startling truth is that nearly all of human progress has taken place in the last three hundred years (and for many of the billions of non-Westerners lifted out of crushing poverty thanks to capitalism, it’s happened in the last thirty years)."

27) "A rising economic tide is bad for people who live off of the poverty of others."

26) "For example, one will virtually never hear that the Palmer Raids, Prohibition, or American eugenics were thoroughly progressive phenomena. These are sins America itself must atone for. Meanwhile, real or alleged 'conservative' misdeeds — say McCarthyism — are always the exclusive fault of conservatives and a sign of the policies they would repeat if given power. The only culpable mistake that liberals make is failing to fight 'hard enough' for their principles. Liberals are never responsible for historic misdeeds because they feel no compulsion to defend the inherent goodness of America. Conservatives, meanwhile, not only take the blame for events not of their own making that they often worked the most assiduously against, but find themselves defending liberal misdeeds in order to defend America herself."

25) "Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common goal. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the 'problem' and therefore defined as the enemy. I will argue that contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism."

24) "Disagreements become insults when politics becomes a statement about who you are."

23) "But if you try to see things like a state for a second, it’s simply unsustainable to have a libertarian immigration policy and a liberal welfare state. Ultimately, if you don’t want cops asking for your papers, you need to get rid of one or the other."

22) "Liberals are uncomfortable with the topic of patriotism because their core philosophical impulses are to make America a different country than it is."

21) "…I have a simple answer to any American patriot who claims that there is no conflict between his love of country and his desire to hitch our fate to the United Nations: 'You’re mistaken.' And, therefore, I’m thinking of adding this corollary to my General Rule of patriotism: The more intellectually consistent and pro-U.N. you are, the less patriotic you are likely to be. I haven’t thought that all the way through, but it seems right to me."

20) "Complexity is a subsidy. The more complex government makes society, the more it rewards those with the resources to deal with that complexity, and the more it punishes those who do not.”

19) "America's political system used to be about the pursuit of happiness. Now, more and more of us want to stop chasing it and have it delivered."

18) “The government cannot love you, and any politics that works on a different assumption is destined for no good."

17) "As psychiatrist and science blogger Scott Alexander writes: As the feminist movement gradually took hold, women conquered one of these fields after another. 51% of law students are now female. So are 49.8% of medical students, 45% of math majors, 60% of linguistics majors, 60% of journalism majors, 75% of psychology majors, and 60% of biology postdocs. Yet for some reason, engineering remains only about 20% female. And everyone says 'Aha! I bet it’s because of negative stereotypes!'"

 

16) "The desire to be entertained has rewired much of our civilization, because it has rewired our minds. When everything needs to be entertaining, we judge everything by its entertainment value.”

15) "We talk about murder and rape as unnatural as a way to heap deserving opprobrium on the practice even though, as we’ve seen, neither is actually unnatural. Adultery is wholly natural, but we condemn it as a violation of important norms to keep the habit to a minimum. 'Very often those things we have condemned as ‘unnatural’ are things that we know will flourish if we leave them alone,' writes Robin Fox in The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind.”

14) "If we say that anyone who 'moralizes' must be perfect morally then we are in effect saying no one can moralize."

13) "Tribalism isn’t just about us-vs.-them, it’s also about deferring to fame and status, investing in personalities rather than principles. As institutions lose their hold on us, we put our faith in celebrities.”

12) "Our fear of hypocrisy is forcing us to live in a world where gluttons are fine, so long as they champion gluttony."

11) "Everyone moralizes. The suggestion that liberals aren’t moralizers is so preposterous it makes it hard for me to take any of them seriously when they wax indignant about 'moralizers.' Almost every day, they tell us what is moral or immoral to think and to say about race, taxes, abortion ‘ you name it. They explain it would be immoral for me to spend more of my own money on my own children when that money could be spent by government on other peoples’ children. In short, they think moralizing is fine. They just want to have a monopoly on the franchise."

10) "What was once considered the only noble motivation for a hero, a conception of good outside himself, has been replaced by what Irish philosopher David Thunder calls 'purely formal accounts of integrity.' According to Thunder, 'purely formal accounts essentially demand internal consistency within the form or structure of an agent’s desires, actions, beliefs, and evaluations.' He adds that, under purely formal integrity, a person 'may be committed to evil causes or principles, and they may adopt principles of expediency or even exempt themselves from moral rules when the rules stand in the way of their desires.' In other words, if you stick to your code, no matter what you do, you can be seen as a hero. It’s this sort of thinking that has led Hannibal Lecter, a character who barbarously murders and eats(!) innocent people, to be seen as something of a folk hero.”

9) “To fret about political, social, or economic inequality in a free society is to fret about the problem of freedom itself, for in the presence of freedom there will always be inequality of some kind.”

8) "Again, one need not be categorically opposed to ethnic groups or other minorities flexing their muscles in a diverse society. That’s a story as old as the country and is unavoidable in any society. The key distinction, once more, is that some within these groups are not merely fighting for their piece of the pie or for recognition of their legitimate interests. They are seeking to overthrow the ideals that made this country so successful in the first place. They are not merely arguing that the system needs to live up to its own ideals, which was the argument of the suffragettes and the civil rights movement. They are arguing that the ideals themselves are illegitimate.”

7) "People ask, 'Why is there poverty in the world?' It’s a silly question. Poverty is the default human condition. It is the factory preset of this mortal coil.

6) "Capitalism is the most cooperative system ever created for the peaceful improvement of peoples’ lives. It has only a single fatal flaw: It doesn’t feel like it. The market system is so good at getting people—from all over the world—to work together that we barely notice how much we’re cooperating.”

5) "I understand that identity-politics arguments are supposed to trump everything else these days, but the idea that all Americans of Asian, black, and Hispanic heritage have homogeneous political interests and identities is both ridiculous and grotesque."

4) "Indeed, as libertarians are fond of pointing out, pretty much all laws come with the implicit threat of violence. Don’t believe me? Refuse to obey even the most picayune law and eventually a man in uniform with a gun on his hip is going to come talk to you about it."

 

3) “We live in the most non-patriarchal moment in all of American history, if not all of Western history, if not all of human history. And yet so profound is the need to fight this terrible foe that, across the landscape, Donna Quixotes are constantly tilting their lances at mirages of their own imaginations.”

2) "Just to clarify: If you go into every situation saying there’s absolutely nothing worth fighting over, you will inevitably end up on a cot sleeping next to a guy named Tiny, bringing him breakfast in his cell every morning, and spending your afternoons ironing his boxers. Or, in the case of the French, you might spend your afternoons rounding up Jews to send to Germany, but you get the point."

1) "But tolerance is a two-way street. In a decent society, the majority owes respect to the minority. And the minority owes the majority respect as well. That bargain has fallen apart, most acutely in Europe, but America is not far behind, as the champions of identity have grown in power. The story has been embellished to the point where the majority are not cast as tolerant and decent citizens trying to figure out how we should live with one another; the majority are now simply villains.”

John Hawkins runs Brass Pills, is the founder of Right Wing Newsand you can also listen to his Planet Hawkins Podcastor follow him on Twitter.

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