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tv   Interview with Jonah Goldberg Suicide of the West  CSPAN  December 31, 2018 9:35am-9:53am EST

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>> all of these authors have been featured on book tv and find the programs in their entirety on book tv.org. type the author's name in the search bar at the top of the page. seven of the most watched book events on book tv.org were political in nature. such as number three, james comey's "a higher loyalty", and corsi's book. and tara memoir of being raised by survivalists and no formal education before age 17. you can watch these complete programs and watched book events at book tv.org. >> and you're watching book tv on c-span2 live coverage. miami book fair. joining us now is jonah goldberg. his most recent book is called "suicide of the west" we'll get to the subtitle in a minute.
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mr. goldberg, is there a line that you can draw between your three books, liberal fascism, the tyranny of cliches and now "suicide of the west". yes, they all took an enormous amount of work by jonah goldberg. i often tell people that this book is a bit of a prequel to "liberal fascism". if i had to do it over again there are parts of liberal fascism i would have written differently. it's amazing how it's kind of a totem for people to hate on on the left and like me on the right, but i've changed some views how intellectual history works. in "liberal fascism", there's a comm common tendency of a lot of people on left and right to say
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philosopher a said x. and then philosopher b said it so therefore philosopher b must have been influenced by philosopher a. and connecting the dots, sort of blaming everything in rousseau. i don't believe in it as much anymore. it's interesting and illuminating, but one of the things i've come around to, i'm a much bigger believer in how our brains sometimes guide the ideas that we grab hold of and that tribalism is this thing that's hard-wired into it. it can manifest itself in different ways and places and so that sense of want to be part of a group, a tribe, whether you call it socialism or fascism or communists or nazis any of this thing, that instinct is more important than i realized. it's not just ideas that drives
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things. >> it's the receptivity to our brains that's important. there's a lot of overlap in the political philosophy, and all of that kind of thing, but the evolution and how i view these things is pretty marked. i think that's-- it's someplace where my head is at a lot these days, if that makes sense. >> if you rewrite liberal fascism. would it be a different book and different conclusions? >> no i think that the first four or five chapters, maybe this sort that wouldn't have used or that person wouldn't have used, but the overarching historical arguments that i make and frame it i'm perfectly happy to defend. but one. things that i wanted to do with that book was to get people to stop using the word fascist so much and instead, i made the habit bipartisan and so, there's some of the sort of hammer and tongs partisan stuff
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in the second half of the book, i would read things and another one of the sort of unintended consequences, even though i don't wake saul walynnski, and in part because of me because of sort of helped to introduce him out there what dismayed me on the right the way so many people on the right say we have to be like him when my whole argument is this is a bad guy and argument of ends justifying the means, and on the right no the only way to beat them is to be one. and i hate that kind of thinking, i hate that kind of, you know, if you can't beat them, join them. fight fire with fire thinking sufficient fused what we call the right these days and the populist nationalist crowd that i'm not part of. >> when you talk about
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tribalism and yourself, what tribes do you belong to? >> part of the argument, one of the things that makes liberal democratic capitalism work is you want to have a portfolio of allegiances to different institutions different identities, you want to wear different hats. i'm against what gk chester called the clean and well lit prison of a single idea. and so what you want, what makes it possible not just a division of labor in terms of our jobs, but the division of labor in terms of our minds, that part of our day we can be religious, part of the day we can define ourselves as a father or mother or as a sports fan and that allows us to get outside of the single lanes of identity so i've belonged to a lot of different tribes. my family is ultimate first platoon, first allegiance, but there's always places like national review, the american
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enterprise institute, my friends, you can go down-- judaism to some extent although i'm a very bad jew. you can go down the long list of identities and i think they're mostly sympatico or symbiotic with you don't want to get to the place where the demands of your single tribe override all of the considerations. one of my tribes is america and one of the reasons i don't like populism both on the left and right is that basically the logic of the mob. it says we're all in it together. what we believe in is correct, one of the things we've seen in the last couple years on right is this attitude for some conservative intellectuals, and barring from a french intellectual who i can't remember his name, the people have chosen and i must go with them for i am their leader.
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there's an enormous amount of get on board the train. get with the program. i used to say the singlemost thing on the campus, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. that's now a bipartisan attitude in big chunks. country and i don't like that stuffments where is the override between trebibalism, nationalism and populism? >> they're all forms-- and there's evolutionist psychologist writes about well, called the coalition instincts. we're born with this wiring that says we need to be part of a group, we need to be part of a group to protect our collective interests. this is part of our wiring. the founding fathers understood that this is part of human nature and they call this faction. adam smith in the wealth of nation seldom will you get
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where a conversation won't turn to a conspiracy against the public good. people tend to form group. prison gangs are a perfect example, self-forming coalition. tribalism which has become part of a cliche today i think is getting at that natural human tendency that manifests itself in different ways. so, you know, one way to think about it is communism with tribalism for one class. fascism with tribalism for one nation, so, naziism with tribalism for one race. there's this thing in our brain that clicks on that says we want to be part of the group and see each 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
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thousands of years that says do not trust strangers. there's a wonderful guy paul bloom who wrote just babies where he surveys the research that programming that babies are inherented with. don't worry, no babies were harmed in the conduct of the experiences. babies are morn with accents. french babies have a french accent. german babies have a german accent. babies are bonding quickly with parents and distrust people who sound different or trust different. people who say you need to be taught to hate are wrong. what people need to do is be taught not to hate. there's a evolutionary advantage, the tribe to that cooperates will succeed and the individualists will be wiped
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out. because of that programming there's certain political ideologies that can trick us into being part of this cult of unity and the great thing about liberal-- and the thing is, ben sass is good in his book about this, that unity is not the problem. unity is a good they think. it's tribalism is a good thing. it's finding healthy attachments and outlets for it, faith, family, friends, local communities, meeting at institutions close to home. those are all good sports teams and good things. but politics can't serve that very well at a national level without becoming distorting and tribal and that's the problem. government cannot love you. >> so, is identity politics, which is the force mentioned in your subtitle, is that just another word for these three things? >> well, now, what they all are is-- they're important different manifestations of this underlying phenomena, all right? so identity politics is an
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ancient human understanding or way of looking at the world. among the first forms of identity politics was aristocracy. aristocrat originally meant rule of the best, the most worthy, right? and then what happened is, another part of human nature that says, i want to give-- i want to play favors with my genes, with my family, my friends, with my kin, my coalition, nepotism is hard wire, existent in every society that lived. the aristocrats invented the concept of noble blood. this idea that some people were just simply born better than other people. aristotle talks about how some people are just born by nature slaves or rulers. and that was one of the original forms of identity politics, that says some people simply by accident of birth are better than other people, more worthy than other people or worse than other people. one of the greatest things that
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the founding fathers did was get rid of titles of nobility. there was inherent, a lot of perceptions, you should judge people on their own individual merits, that you take people as you found that. the problem i have with identity politics is that it's ancient and reactionary. it is going back to this idea that there are different casts of people. different kinds of people that should be judged differently not on their own merits, but because of the circumstances of their birth or ancestorancestor that is increasingly on the right, but on the left for a very long time now. >> jonah goldberg, why does it seem that populism, nationalism, tribal identity is so exaggerated or pronounced today perhaps more than ten years ago? >> yeah, it definitely is more
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pronounced today. i think that one of the most important drivers of this is the breakdown ever all the institutions of civil society at the local level, at the place where we actually live in this world. again, we are wired to want to belong to a group. we want to get some meaning and sense of belongings from something and the institutions that are most healthy and productive in doing that, start with the family, but also, local religious organizations, civic groups, all of these kinds of things, when those sorts of things start to break down, we don't lose that instinct. that quest for community. our politics for the last 30 years, 40 years has been increasingly selling this idea that the government can give-- that partisan politics can give you that sense of identity, that partisan politics can be your tribe. the first words at democratic congestion 2012 was from a
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video that says government is the one thing that we all belong to and that sense of how to look at politics where there's my group and the other group, is inherently tribal and demonizing. and so you have very, very high levels of negative polarization in america today, which is what politics-- political scientists are getting at when they talk about how for mms of americans, the reason why they're democrats is because they hate republicans and vice versa. so you have this giant sorting where today your partisan affiliation tells an enormous part about you. your identity. 40 years ago if i asked you a republican or democrat, i'd have to ask you were a liberal or conservative. that's not true anymore. what we're seeing is an enormous sense that politics is becoming a life style and our lifestyle are becoming politicized because there
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aren't better sources of meaning in our lives. and with the vulcanization of the mass media, we have media serving as defacto arms of our two political parties in part because our political parties are so weak. that's an irony in this. it hasn't been this bad since the 1850's, but the parties themselves have never been weaker. because they can't handle the politics that our country is suppose today handle the other institutions are. every oscars, a jackass gets up and says a bit for the parties and the newspaper lobbies to-- and fox news i have been a contributor for ten years, the political shows at night are basically for rnc. and nbc is virtually signaling
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to democrats in much the same ways. and the institutes become c co-opted to the political process and because we only listen to the ones that we agree with, it's self-perpetuating, but we see the other person is not only wrong, but is against our way of life and all that we hold dear. and that's part of the reason why. >> that's part of "suicide of the west". jonah goldberg. and how this is destroying american policies. >> good to be here. >> here are some of the current best selling nonfiction books according to amazon. topping the list is "becoming", former first lady michelle obama's memoir. after that a collection of the late columnist charles
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krauthammer's speeches. >> and president trump and his response to the hurricane, by staff and stephen colbert. and then growing up in the idaho mountains and introduction to formal education at age 17. and wrapping up a look at some of the best selling books according to amazon, a look at human history "sapiens", some of them have appeared and you can find them on-line at book tv.org. throughout the year, book tv attendance events and book fairs to speak with nonfiction authors. at the book fair in washington d.c. we spoke with ira shapiro about the future of the senate. >> ira shapiro, give us a ens

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